- We’re in support of protest – MASSOB
We didn’t close markets officially – Anambra markets boss
FG should release Nnamdi Kanu – CD
Yesterday’s peaceful demonstration carried out by members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, one of those agitating for the restoration of state of Biafra, led to the halt of commercial activities in Onitsha as a huge crowd joined the protesters in a march around the city.
IPOB had embarked on the demonstration exercise in protest against continued detention of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Department of Security Services, DSS, even after an Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court at Wuse Zone 2, had granted him bail.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday observed that most school age children in the commercial city did not venture to go to school, while those who went were ordered to go home immediately by the private school proprietors and public school heads at both nursery, primary and secondary levels for fear of uncertainty over the protest.
During the demonstration exercise, the members were seen all over the commercial city and its environs patrolling on foot, while the police and other security agencies monitor them curiously.
However, vehicular movements were disrupted along the Onitsha Enugu Expressway, Onitsha-Owerri Road, Onitsha Aguleri, Nsugbe, Nkwelle Ezunaka Roads, Old and New Market Roads, Nkpor, Ogidi, Obosi Roads, which caused traffic gridlocks on all the roads within and outside Onitsha.
Although major markets in the city did not close down officially due to Governor Willie Obiano’s stern warning that any market, which closes in solidarity of the protest, would be shut down for six months by the state government and their leaders punished accordingly.
But most of the traders voluntarily stayed at home in solidarity of the Biafra group, while few of them who went to the market and opened their shops discovered sooner or later that there were no customers and probably out of fear of uncertainty, they eventually closed their shops at 12 noon and went home.
Reacting to the development, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, said although IPOB is a different group of Biafra agitators, they supported the protest against continued detention of their leader, Kanu because when the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike was detained, they equally did their own protest until he was released.
MASSOB’s Deputy Director for Information, Mazi Chris Mocha who spoke to newsmen on phone, said they welcome any group that is agitating for the actualisation of Biafra because such a group is assisting MASSOB in its struggle for the actualisation.
President of Anambra Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, AMATAS, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo who also spoke to newsmen on phone, said traders were in their market shops doing their legitimate business because markets were not closed officially for the day.
The Campaign for Democracy, CD, in its own reaction, called on the federal government to release Kanu because a court of competent jurisdiction had already granted him bail and as such, his continued detention amounted to extra-judicial action.
CD’s South East Zonal Chairman, Uzor A. Uzor, reminded the federal government of the need to be a respecter of law and not a violator of law, adding that the violation of the court order was capable of setting a bad precedence in future.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls that agitators for Biafra state have used various means to attract attention including Biafra radio that was recently closed by the Federal Government, international conferences and distributions of leaflets aimed at creating awareness.
Only yesterday, the IGP warned the protesters against resort to violence even as many organisations have called on the government to take a deeper look at the activities of the ‘rebel’ group stating that its activities are likely to spread and that it could lead to anarchy.
Some organisations think failure to put a halt to the activities of the agitators will strengthen them and lead to their recruiting innocents that could easily be brainwashed as recruits of Boko Haram were.
The Onitsha Police Area Commander, Philip Ezekiel, who declined to comment on the issue in a telephone chat, however noted that they monitored the event and ensured that it was violence free.