From Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia
They wore black attire and most of them wailing; they have been saddened beyond consolation.
It was indeed a sad day for the Igbo women who had gathered to conduct a mass burial for members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) who were allegedly extra-judicially killed by the Nigerian armed forces on May 30, this year, when they gathered for the Biafra Day celebration at Nkpor, near Onitsha, Anambra State.
On that mourning day, the Igbo women worldwide under the aegis of Ogbako Umuokpu Igbonile converged on the open premises of Eke Nkpor market roundabout in Nkpor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State to bid goodbye to their sons and husbands who were killed celebrating their “native land”.
Daily Sun gathered that the victims, who were majorly at the forefront of championing for a sovereign state of Biafra, had come from the South-East and South-South regions for the commemoration of the declaration of the Republic of Biafra in 1967 by Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
But the celebration reportedly turned sour when a team of security agents drawn from the Nigerian army, police and other federal government-controlled security outfits swooped on the armless celebrants and allegedly opened fire on them, killing many people.
The corpses of the victims were reportedly carried away by the soldiers and allegedly buried in an unknown cemetery.
Reports also claimed that some security agents had then allegedly invaded many hospitals in Onitsha, Nkpor, Nnewi and environs and ferried away suspected members of IPOB who were receiving treatment to unknown destinations.
However, these allegations had long been refuted by the security agencies through their various media channels.
They had absolved themselves of wrong doings, maintaining that the Nigerian army, police and others had no hand in whatever happened to the victims as reported in the media.
But with heavy hearts, the Igbo women drawn from the seven-Igbo speaking states of Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Delta and Rivers, organized a mass burial for the victims and prayed for the peaceful repose of their souls in accordance with Igbo culture.
Market women and shop owners around the vicinity also closed their shops during the ceremony to honour the departed souls.
A white coffin draped with black cloth and 178 black shirts were attached to the coffin while 21 gun salutes were shot in line with Igbo traditional burial rites.
The event started with a brief service officiated by the pastor in charge of Divine Nature Assembly Church, Amawbia, Mrs Precious Madu, followed by brief moment of tributes and lamentations.
There was also a brief stopover of the casket at St. Edmund Catholic Church, Nkpor-Agu were the victims had held a church service before they were allegedly murdered.
In her sermon, Pastor Mrs Madu regretted that the Nigerian security operatives showed no regard for the sanctity of human life while handling the Biafra Day celebrants.
She pointed out that if the security had done the needful, the unnecessary killing would have been avoided.
She, therefore, prayed God to cleanse Igboland, saying that it has been smeared with innocent blood.
“It appeared as though they killed cockroaches and not human beings,” she regretted.
Mrs Madu also appealed to the South-East governors to live up to their responsibility than to shy away for selfish reasons.
The President of the group, Lolo Chika Ibeneme, while praying for the peaceful repose of the souls of the victims, called on the United Nations and other relevant international organizations to ensure that justice was given on the incident.
“What we are saying today is let what happened after the war not happen now after these children were killed. Blood is very thick. We warn them to respect the sanctity of human lives. The live of every human being is very sacred and dear to God.
“None of them can create a strand of human hair, but they found it easy to massacre our innocent, armless children. And these children have permit from the Nigeria police. And the Nigeria armed forces saw these children running away and they started shooting and killing them. Are we fighting any war?
Her words: “Let me even tell you. They have resolved to do everything to ensure that Igboland will never be one. That was why during the 2015 general election, they came for ‘crusade’ and buried six live snakes at Okpara Square, in front of the ‘Unknown Soldier.’ Snakes don’t live together in one hole. And they declared that there will never be peace in Igboland so that they will remain in Nigeria and totally get milked. But today, we have broken it.
“In front of that Unknown Soldier, they dug a hole that night. The music was on and the attendees were singing and dancing. You know normal crusade ground. But those who did it did not know that somebody saw them clearly. There was uneasiness and there was lights out at that point. While they emptied the six snakes, somebody saw them live and direct. I asked him why he didn’t raise the alarm. He said he might have been killed that night if he had raised the alarm.”
As the remains of the victims were being conveyed for burial, a female commercial driver who was carrying the casket to the cemetery, Mrs Felicia Aniagbaoso, while praying for the repose of the departed victims lamented: “We are pained that our sons and daughters were massacred for no just cause. As women, we feel the pain more because we know the pain of childbirth.”
But surprisingly, few minutes after the commencement of the event at Nkpor, a black snake from nowhere attacked one of the participants.
According to them, the snake descended in front of one of the female participants having climbed her from behind.
Commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as Okada who chased after the snake told Oriental News that the snake could not be killed as it ran into the crowded Eke Nkpor market.
The lady who was traumatized by the incident left the scene to meet her pastor for prayers though she was not beaten by the snake The Sun