By Nwabueze Okonkwo, Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Ugochukwu Alaribe
ENUGU—The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday, denied alleged involvement in the seizing and threat to blowing up a merchant ship carrying foreigners.
IPOB Media and Publicity Officer, Mr. Emma Powerful said IPOB is a non violent group with responsible men in the society in Nigeria and in diaspora as members and therefore, cannot involve in any violent activity that may possibly harm or take the life of anybody from within and outside Nigeria.
He said: “Many people are sympathetic to the Biafran actualization cause because of the treatment meted to the entire Biafran land comprising the former Eastern Region. Many groups are also rising up to speak against the treatment meted to the IPOB leader and Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu who at present is being incarcerated in Kuje prison, and they can use any style to make their demand felt by the Federal Government but no IPOB member has a hand in it.”
An online medium had yesterday, reported that Biafra agitators have allegedly hijacked a merchant ship and threatened to blow it up with its foreign crew if government authorities do not release its detained leader agitating for a breakaway state of Biafra.
The medium claimed that a Defence Ministry source has allegedly confirmed that the hijacking occurred on Friday and called it “an act of sabotage.” The publication did not mention the name of the ship or where it happened.
The publication also alleged that the Defence Ministry source spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive, saying the hijackers have given the government 31 days to free Kanu or they will blow up the ship along with its crew.
We don’t know about it —MASSOB
But the leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said that the group has no hand in the alleged hijacking of any merchant ship or any threat to blow up the alleged ship, because they are non violent and have no weapon to hold any ship hostage, let alone seizing and threatening to blow it with its passengers.
He said: “I am aware that a militant group sometime gave the Federal Government twenty one-day ultimatum to release Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, failing which they threatened that they will do what will surprise the Nigerian government. May be it is the group, I do not even remember their name but I heard or read about that threat.
“You know that a lot of groups are springing up from the old Eastern Region to agitate for the actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and as far as they are fighting for Biafra, we cannot disown them, but they have their own style which I think the Federal Government of Nigeria understands easily. If you are not violent, they will not understand and they will ignore you. So, we support the group if that is what they have actually done.
“We in MASSOB are not involved in violence, that is why they do not take us serious. They believe we are illiterate job seekers that are frustrated in life and decided to demand for Biafra. They think that our own is to demonstrate peacefully and they will shoot and kill us and go into jubilation that they have dealt with us, but now, they have seen their match. We support the people if they have actually done that.”
He further stated that “any method applied by any Biafra agitating group to ensure that the Federal Government of Nigeria respects its law and court orders is approved by MASSOB, but we in MASSOB have chosen the path of non-violence and we will maintain it until Biafra is achieved.
MASSOB has also denied reports that the group is divided between the Ralph Uwazuruike and Uchenna Madu factions, battling for supremacy.
Addressing newsmen in Aba, Abia State, Leader of MASSOB, Chief Solomon Chukwu, who spoke through the organization’s National Director of Information, Sunny Okerefaor said that the group was planning to invade MASSOB headquarters in Okwe, Onuimo council area of Imo State to sack the Uchenna Madu faction.
He added that MASSOB cannot allow itself to be distracted by people he described as expelled members who are determined to sabotage Biafra.
Ojukwu Memorial Library as 5th headquarter
According to him, “Ojukwu Memorial Library is our 5th headquarter. We started from Lagos to Aba to Owerri and Okwe and now back to Owerri. Okwe is MASSOB headquarters; it belongs to MASSOB. It has never been in contention. There are dissidents in every organization. You can observe it in every agitation. Uchenna Madu was our Director of Information, but he was expelled for anti-MASSOB activities. Anybody not authorized by MASSOB founder, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, is fake. The only MASSOB we have is the one headed by Chief Uwazuruike and it has been properly handed over to me. These are people being sponsored by the politicians.
“Uchenna Madu and other expelled members are just using MASSOB to collect money from politicians. Check who are behind the violence during pro-Biafra protests in Aba, Port Harcourt, Asaba and Onitsha? This tells you that they are not MASSOB members. Very soon, I will call Uchenna Madu to order. Whatever they are doing, we won’t fight them because we are non violent. But at the appropriate time, the world will know they are not our members.”
He disclosed that over 40 groups are fighting for the actualization of an independent state of Biafra, with MASSOB as the parent body and urged the Federal Government to grant unconditional release to the detained Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
Seizure not linked to Nigerian group —Defence HQ
Meantime, military authorities in Nigeria have debunked reports in foreign media that Nigerian militant group with sympathy to Biafra and IPOB hijacked a ship and are demanding the release of Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government before the ship will be released.
Speaking with Vanguard on the development, Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig-General Rabe Abubakar said: “It is not true. The story about the hijack has happened but not within our waters and it is not under any particular group.
“But it (ship) is currently being guarded by Benin Republic Navy. The name of the Ship is MT Leondias (9279927), a tanker. The ship is presently in Benin waters, about 7.5 nautical miles, off Cotonou Port under the watch of the Benin Republic Navy.”
Plea for bail
Similarly, the General Overseer of Bethel Church of God Mission, Enugu, Bishop Amaechi Agbo has appealed to the Federal Government to order the release of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, for the sake of peace and tranquillity in the country, saying that although Kanu had already been denied bail by the court, the federal government can still use an executive fiat or prerogative of mercy to release him from detention, with a condition that he should deposit his two international passports (British and Nigerian) after which his trial would commence in earnest.
In his sermon during a special Sunday service that featured testimonies, ministration, healing and Bible studies, Bishop Agbo contended that it was necessary to release Kanu to avoid further protests by the IPOB members which usually end up in destruction of lives and properties and at the same time, created the opportunity for touts and other undesirable elements to infiltrate and take over such protests anytime it is staged.