- Three policemen, 30 others killed
- Military invasion: Delta community deserted
- I’m being tempted to return to militancy – Tompolo
Initial peace that followed Sunday’s Democracy Day celebration as well as yesterday’s public holiday was shattered following clashes between pro-Biafra sympathisers and the military across South Eastern and Niger Delta states on the one hand, and military invasion of parts of Delta State.
Last night, no fewer than 33 people were reportedly killed with three confirmed to be policemen.
Soldiers, protesters clash in Onitsha
What initially began as a peaceful demonstration in commemoration of the May 30, 1967, declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra by late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, yesterday turned bloody as soldiers and protesters clashed at Nkpor, Anambra State, and in the wake, about 30 people were said to have been shot dead by soldiers.
In Enugu State, scores of MASSOB and BIM demonstrators were arrested by the police.
Enugu East zonal leader of a combination of MASSOB and BIM, Comrade Eugene Eze and several others were whisked away after addressing the press at Edinburgh Roundabout, Ogui, Enugu, where the protesters gathered in their numbers brandishing Biafran flags and caps.
National director of publicity, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Comrade Edeson told Nigerian Pilot in a telephone conversation that about 37 people were feared killed at Nkpor by armed soldiers.
Angry Edeson pleaded with the federal government to let them be because they were peaceful demonstrators exercising their right to freedom of association and expression.
“My prayer is that the federal government of Nigeria should let us be. We are non-violent and I don’t see why they should harass us. One thing is certain, no matter the intimidation and threat of death, there is no stopping Biafra,” the MASSOB spokesman posited.
Prior to yesterday’s demonstration, another pro-Biafra group, IPOB had intimated that security agencies had been put on alert to stop Biafrans from commemorating the massacre of their loved ones during the 1966 debacle and those killed in different parts of Igbo land in recent time over quest for the actualisation of the Biafran state.
Before Comrade Eze was whisked away in Enugu, he told newsmen that the federal government should let them be because they were fighting for their right in a peaceful manner.
“We are not afraid because we are a non-violent organisation. We have no weapon; the only defence we have is God and the world. We fought a war and the worst is still happening. There is no hope for the Igbo man in Nigeria. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafran war, nothing has changed,” he said, pointing out that they were not fighting specifically for themselves but for their children and their yet to be born children.
Police arrest pastors, 320 Biafra agitators in Ebonyi
Over 320 Biafra agitators, including pastors, were yesterday manhandled and arrested in a prayer session at Abakaliki by operatives of the Ebonyi State Police Command, during the Biafra Day celebration.
The pastors arrested were said to be leading the inter-denominational service marking the celebration at Nkaliki Primary School playground in Abakaliki.
It was gathered that Biafra agitators had mounted canopies with chairs, musical instruments while gathering in their large numbers to pray for their fallen heroes, when policemen stormed the venue in troops, disrupted the gathering and arrested them.
But the state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP George Okafor in a statement said about 92 pro-Biafrans led by one Vincent Nwamini and several other sub-leaders were arrested.
One of the groups, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, confirmed that over 320 members of the movement were arrested.
Addressing newsmen, the zonal leader of MASSOB in charge of Ebonyi North, John Nwifuru flanked by a member of the Elders-in-Council in charge of Ebonyi anniversary, Chief Moses Eze, alleged that policemen numbering over 200 stormed the Nkaliki Primary School playing ground, Abakaliki, venue of the celebration, and arrested over 320 members of the group and seized items worth several millions of naira.
He alleged that some of the arrested members of the group were clergymen who were conducting inter-denominational church service as activities marking the celebration.
He alleged that items carted away by police included vehicles, over 93 motorcycles and other items for offertory.
“We were at Nkaliki Primary School field observing inter denominational church service when policemen numbering over 200 operating in over 40 Hilux vans stormed the area, shooting sporadically in the air before they threw canister tear gas on us before arresting our clergymen who were conducting church service. They carried plantains, bananas and other consumables which members brought as their offering during the church service.”
He called for the unconditional release of their members arrested in the state and other parts of the country during the peaceful celebration which he said was in commemoration of the declaration of state of Biafra by the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu over 49 years ago.
ASP Okafor noted that the command got intelligence reports that pro-Biafra group had gathered at Nkaliki Primary School in Abakaliki, and police swiftly arrived at the scene and stopped the gathering.
Shoot-out at Asaba, 3 policemen allegedly killed
Fierce atmosphere and palpable tension yesterday enveloped residents of Asaba, the Delta State capital, and its environs, when agitators for Biafra state under the banner of Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, and Movementfor the Actualisation Sovereign State of Biafra,MASSOB, while celebrating their heroes clashed with armed policemen, leaving three of them dead.
As a result, the agitators, clad in black and red attires, took to the streets of Asaba after their efforts to invade the state government house were resisted by fierce mobile policemen who sprayed them with tear gas.
Investigation revealed that the agitators had in the early hours mobilised themselves into two groups, chanting war songs that were accompanied with solidarity match.
The agitators, mainly youths, insisted that the Buhari-led government had failed Nigerian people, saying “we want Biafra state; Buhari-led government has failed Nigerian people; we are tired of Nigeria.”
Speaking to newsmen, the leader of the group, Mr. Emeka Okafor said they were not protesting, rather celebrating one year in the struggle for Biafra.
He said, “We are not at war with security agents and we are not armed but agitating for Biafra state. We congratulate our members in the struggle; we call on President Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu or face more protests.”
Nigerian Pilot gathered that in Abraka Motor Park in Asaba, the agitators allegedly attacked policemen, leaving scores of them injured while traders and residents of the area scampered for their lives.
An eye witness, Jacob Sobeh told Nigerian Pilot that some of the agitators were severely injured by the police, in retaliation of the alleged killing of three of their men.
Another eye witness stated that about 3,000 members of the group took off from Abraka motor park junction near and matched towards Cable Point through Osadebey Way/Jarret Street, all in Asaba.
The report stated that at the Federal College junction Asaba, the police reportedly, after applying tear gas, opened fire on them.
According to the report, some who defiled the sporadic shooting went and disarmed the police men and in the process two of them were stabbed.
The report finally stated that they were immediately thrown into the marine end of the River Niger.
When contacted, the state Police Commissioner, Alkali Baba Usman said he had not been briefed on the situation.
Meanwhile, a DSP who preferred anonymity told Nigerian Pilot that one of the corpses had been recovered from the river and efforts were being made by divers to recover the corpse of the other police man.
However, some of the agitators who were injured reportedly refused treatment in one of the private hospitals along Osadebey Way, Asaba.
Clash claims 6 in Rivers
No fewer than six persons were killed at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State on Sunday, following an attack by suspected cult gang in the area.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that some gunmen suspected to be members of Greenlanders cult group unleashed mayhem on Ibaa community, with sporadic gunshots that lasted up to the night.
It was gathered that the invasion was a reprisal attack on a rival cult group in the area called the Icelanders.
Eye witness account has it that among those identified as victims of the attack are Mr. Prince Nyenke, Mr. Dirinna, Mr. Kpomasiruchi, Mr. ThankGod Obisike and two others.
A source in the community who pleaded anonymity said the gunmen laid siege on the community and operated freely without interruption from security agents, as they shot from Sunday morning to early Monday morning.
According to the source, the mini-police post situated in the community had been closed since the shootout.
The source, who witnessed the incident, also stated that the attackers moved from house to house in search of members of the Icelanders.
According to the source, the Greenlanders succeeded in chasing the Icelanders out of their camp in the community.
Reacting to the development, the caretaker committee chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Mr. John Wokoma, who visited the affected families, described the situation as pathetic.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad confirmed the incident, putting the casualty number at three, but added that it was clash for supremacy between the cult groups.
Meanwhile, at least 12 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, were yesterday arrested in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The MASSOB members were arrested along Market Road during a peaceful procession along the streets of Oyigbo metropolis.
Among the persons arrested by policemen from Counter Terrorism Unit, CTU, Base 3, Port Harcourt, were six members of the band boys and a woman wearing a Biafra Red Cross white uniform.
The policemen had earlier driven pass the hundreds of Biafran agitators, including the aged and young, but later returned, accosted them, destroying their banners.
Gbaramatu monarch alleges threat to life
Traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom, in Warri South West Local Government Area,, Delta State, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe Agadagba, has raised an alarm that his life is in serious danger following last Saturday’s invasion of Oporoza Community, his home town by the military.
He disclosed this on Sunday when the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator Presidential Amnesty, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), paid an unscheduled visit to his Palace in Oporoza, Sunday evening, calling on government to come to his rescue.
The military invasion has turned Oporoza, the headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom to a ghost town as the once bubbling coastal community have been deserted as military intensify efforts in search for members of Niger Delta Avengers.
Gbaramatu monarch who was visibly touched by unfolding episode of persistent invasion of his kingdom and the unpalatable experience of the 2009 bombing by the military, said he is threatened by the presence of the military in Oporoza as nobody knows the fate that will befall them as the military have occupied houses vacated by his subjects.
“They came with bundles of army, beat up people, loot our houses, descended on our people, humiliated my people and even injured an 80 years old chief. Some women are even looking for their children. I sit down here seeing the military parade my people as if they are criminals. I am in deep pains. I cannot move out of this palace. Infact I am under arrest. All my chiefs have ran away from the community. I am here alone and I dont know what will happen to me next. The soldiers are now the owners of this kingdom.”
“We are a peace loving Kingdom but I don’t know why the government will treat me this way. You don’t have to judge a Kingdom from Abuja or Lagos. You have to come down like the way you are here, come down and see for yourself. But they are judging us from Abuja , Lagos, . Help us rescue that old man and myself here, I am in danger as you can see. You met me here in the dark. I am in the dark. Before this time I told them that we are prepared to work with government. We have been working with government before now and I don’t know why they are treating us this way. I am in danger. I am in the dark, they switch off the generating set that supply electricity. No water, even since morning I have not taken my bath. I am afraid. No member of my community is around. They have invaded my palace, claim some houses. I want to say that I am in danger,” the Gbaramatu Monarch lamented.
“ we are not criminals to deserve such inhuman treatment as the military have bluntly turned down efforts to get them discuss with him. I want government to come to my rescue. I know that they are here by order but that does not mean they should not discuss with me. We are not happy. We are not Avengers. We are not hiding militants in Gbaramatu Kingdom.”
Army in Gbaramatu to recover illegal arms – Boroh
Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Matters, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh Rtd, has maintained that the military was in Oproza Community, Gbaramatu kingdom to recover illegal arms and other military related items in the possession of criminals.
Boroh also noted that the military was to keep the peace, ensure stability and not to molest them in view of the recent pipeline bombings by a new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.
The presidential adviser who was at Oporoza to consult with leaders and stakeholders in Gbaramatu described the effect of the activities of the NDA as “economic sabotage” pointing out that it is affecting the nation’s economy.
He added that investors and their investments were being threatened by the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, which is already pulling out investors from the region.
, “It is important enough because the activities happening in this our area now is affecting the economy of the country , it is affecting our land”
“It is affecting all of us and the Government is very concerned
about it. We cherish peace and we believe peace is the most
Important thing that we all will enjoy. The presence of the military here is also for peace . We didn’t come to create scenes”
Boroh said “ the military came to ensure there is stability and I will want us to key into them . Me am also of the military background too. I understand that when order of this nature is given, they will just be around as a deterrent force to ensure there is peace, stability”
“People should not be afraid of their presence . So I come to discuss issues of peace with you so that, there can be stability in the whole region,” he stated.
Activist condemns reawakened militancy
National coordinator of Niger Delta Peace Coalition, NDPC, Zik Gbemre has strongly condemned the attacks on oil installations by suspected militants.
Gbemre in a statement obtained by Nigerian Pilot, yesterday said “It is with the strongest term that we condemn the recent reawakened militant bomb blasts attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines/Assets in strategic areas of Delta State and other parts of the Niger Delta region by the so called Niger Delta Avengers”
He stated also “ as relevant Stakeholders and Advocates of Sustainable Peace and Development in Delta State, the Niger Delta region and the entire country in general, we condemn in serious terms, the renewed militancy activities in the region which evidently; is creating more harm and damage on an already deplorable situation of the region”
“ There is nothing that is so delusional, self-inflicting and self-harmful than when one uses his own hands to destroy his own natural environment, eco-system, economic wellbeing of his people and the future of its younger generations; in the name fighting for any “cause” – no matter how justifiable or noble such a course might be painted”
According to Gbemre “ aside the economic sabotage these militants activities have created in the last couple of weeks with their ill-advised actions, the destruction of our farmlands, rivers and natural environment and the whole eco-system in the Niger Delta region, and the damage that is left behind from every bomb blast of Oil and Gas Pipelines/Assets; cannot to remedied and restored easily in years to come”
“ Why do we like using our own hands to inflict ‘serious injuries’ on ourselves, our environment and our generations unborn just for ephemeral gains in the name of fighting for a cause? And later on, it is same set of people that will be crying out for the damage caused by Oil and Gas exploration in the industry. Must the so called faceless Niger Delta Avengers blow up Oil and Gas Pipelines/Assets to drive home their point? In whose interests are they really agitating and fighting for with their self-injurious actions? Definitely not our interests and also not in the interest of the Niger Delta people”.
… Army tempting me to return to militancy -Tompolo
Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), who is currently being hunted by security agents over allegations of fraud levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has established contact with the deputy governor of Delta State and chairman, Advocacy Committee Against Oil Facility Vandalism, Mr. Kingsley Burutu Otuaro.
Tompolo, believed to be the godfather of Otuaro following his contributions in making him deputy governor, was said to have phoned Otuaro from his hideout on Saturday, alleging that soldiers’ invasion of Oporoza community in search of him was a calculated plot to make him join forces with the Niger Delta Avengers, the new militant group that have destroyed several oil installations in the Niger Delta in recent times.
The former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, was quoted to have told Otuaro that despite the aggravating military action which had left defenceless women and children trapped in the bush since Saturday, he would never renege on his stand against bombing of oil installations having accepted amnesty in 2009.
A source who confided in Nigerian Pilot said: “I can tell you that Tompolo actually phoned the deputy governor telling him that he was being tempted to go back to his vomit by the military, but he would not like to fall for it. The deputy governor, who is a minister of the Most High God, counselled him not to ever make such a mistake in his life.”
The report continued that when contacted on the veracity of Tompolo’s phone call to him, Otuaro confirmed that the wanted former militant actually called him.
His words: “It is true; it was yesterday (Saturday) that he called my phone on the Oporoza military invasion allegedly in search for him, which left helpless women and children in the bush for over 48 hours now.”
According to the report, he said it (the alleged invasion) was a temptation intended to provoke him to join forces with the Niger Delta Avengers.
“In his (Tompolo) words: ‘I have often denounced and dissociated myself from the Niger Delta Avengers; I am not an Avenger and I do not want to be part of them. I pray and wish not to fall into that temptation.’ This is what he told me on the phone,” Otuaro was quoted to have said.
Meanwhile, soldiers have continued the siege on Gbaramatu Kingdom, swooping on Tompolo’s ancestral home of Kurutie in six gunboats at about 4:30am yesterday, probably in search for Tompolo on one hand and members of the Niger Delta Avengers on the other.
Residents were woken up by sound of gunboats by the soldiers who arrived the community in wee hours and cordoned it off while embarking on a house to house search.