NO fewer than two persons were feared dead in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, on Monday, January 18, during a protest by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in support of Nnamdi Kanu, their leader.
Kanu, who is also the director of Radio Biafra, was supposed to appear at the federal high court Abuja, on Monday, January 18, but the much awaited case was adjourned due to the absence of the judge.
Irked by the development, the IPOB defied directive of the Police on the ban of public protest/procession and staged a peaceful protest marches in Asaba, Delta State capital, Enugu and Abia over the continued detention of Kanu by Directorate of the State Security Service, DSS.
But crisis allegedly erupted in Aba when a faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, led by Uchenna Madu clashed with a combined team of soldiers and policemen. At least two persons were killed in the process.
The pro-Biafran groups, who had ordered all business activities and schools to close shop in solidarity with their protest, had converged at the National High School, on Port Harcourt Road, Aba, from where they attempted to march and enforce their order, but they were quickly dispersed by soldiers and policemen deployed in the area.
The protesters later moved to Asa Road and the main park area where they made bonfires and created road blocks, which obstructed traffic, leading to another confrontation with the security agents.
Businesses ventures, including banks which had earlier opened for daily activities were hurriedly closed, leaving all the roads deserted.
It was gathered that the protesters earlier confronted the soldiers at Port Harcourt Road which led to the death of one of their members. In a similar clash on the St. Michael’s Road area, Aba, a bystander was also hit by a stray bullet and died before he could get medical attention.
Jude Chukwu, national welfare officer, MASSOB, said the protest was peaceful until soldiers and policemen came and started shooting and using tear gas. He claimed that more than 30 members of pro-Biafra protesters sustained bullet wounds and are being treated in various hospitals.
Chukwu said: “The protest was peaceful until soldiers and policemen started shooting. As I’m talking to you, eight of our members have been shot dead. They should stop killing our members. We are only protesting for the release of our detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu.”
When contacted, Ezekiel Onyeke, spokesman, Abia State Police, said that 26 protesters were arrested during the protest, but claimed that he was not aware that anybody was shot dead.
He, however, appealed to parents to warn their children against criminal activities.
— Jan 19, 2016 @ 14:55 GMT