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We Received Order Not To Repel Boko Haram Attack On Borno Town —Military Source |The Republican News

The military source told SaharaReporters that Brigadier General, S. S. Tilawan had asked soldiers to stay back rather than attack the terrorists who invaded Damasak town on Saturday.

A military source has explained why the Nigerian Army of 5 Brigade and 145 Battalion could not repel Boko Haram attack on Damasak town, Borno State despite heavy military presence.

The military source told SaharaReporters that Brigadier General, S. S. Tilawan had asked soldiers to stay back rather than attack the terrorists who invaded Damasak town on Saturday.

According to him, the Boko Haram militants had come through the town where civilians are residing making it difficult for the fighter aircraft to strike.

He said the airforce personnel had monitored the movement of the terrorists and informed foot soldiers who ought to tactically combat the attack. He, however, said S. S. Tilawan asked soldiers to retreat, giving the terrorists a smooth operation.

“The Boko Haram terrorists came through Damasak town and started the attack from 4:04 pm to 8 pm. The attack lasted for that long, the Boko Haram militants came through the town where civilians live. The airforce personnel tried, they were there on time to attack Boko Haram but couldn’t because of civilians.

“It was supposed to be the duty of the army to enter that town and fish out these bad boys, but we don’t even have what to use, talkless of other things. The jet cannot bomb that town because the Boko Haram militants came from where civilians are staying and the governor of this state, Babagana Zulum, has so much confidence in this battalion, that is why he opened IDPs’ camp in Damasak to protect his people because he so much loves his people. He wants to ensure that the people live comfortably but now it seems like the army has failed the man due to high corruption in the army, this country is so bad.

“With my five years in the army, even common helmet we don’t have, even those who fought first and second world wars used the helmet to fight and in this modern day and age, we don’t have a helmet, I am very angry.

“Within a month now, we have lost 18 soldiers in this battalion because of one useless Brigade Commander S. S. Tilawan they brought to us. This man is creating unnecessary work, he scattered the camp. I believe he is an agent of Boko Haram. A few days ago, a company was dislodged by Boko Haram militants and when our people tried to go for reinforcement, he said we should not go. That day we lost 10 soldiers and today when the jet came, they told us that they could sight the Boko Haram guys but could not bomb because civilians were there, and that we should go with our little weapons and recapture the town.

“Tilawan still gave order that we should not go to that town. He has forgotten that we are here because of these people. The world should come and do something about this man before the issue gets out of hand. The governor should know that his people are no longer safe because of the Brigadier General S. S. Tilawan, he should come fast and do something.

“People are dying anyhow, and we are here for them. I don’t know the number of people who died but I know Boko Haram militants entered the area and looted it. I feel angry because we could not help these people and we are here for them. It is my duty as a Nigerian soldier to protect people but there is nothing we can do when our leaders make decisions against the people.

“Boko Haram killed people in the town and injured some. The people are doing burials in their cemetery now. We would’ve rescued them yesterday but the commander gave the order that we should not enter the town.

“They didn’t enter our camp but they looted Damasak town to their satisfaction. They even took civilians’ cars away. We lost 3 soldiers to yesterday’s attack, totalling 18 soldiers under just one month.”

SaharaReporters had earlier reported how the Boko Haram fighters invaded Damasak town in Borno State on Saturday, burning United Nations facilities and forcing humanitarian workers to flee for their lives.

It was learnt that the terrorists, aided by their deadlier Islamic State West African Province fighters, set fire to the UN office and at least three other international charity organisations contiguous to the UN facility.

“The terrorists came into the town in gun trucks. They first embarked on a looting spree. They carted away aid supplies meant for the Internally Displaced Persons before they set fire to the UN hub in the town and three other buildings belonging to other aid organisations,” a source in the town narrated.

(Sahara Reporters)

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EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian Military Invade Benue Community, Kill Over 30 Villagers, Set Monarch Palace, 200 Houses Ablaze |RN

The operation, which involved deployment of military helicopters using missile launchers, left scores of unarmed civilians dead and property said to worth billions of naira destroyed.

At least 50 unarmed civilians have been allegedly killed by military men in Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State following reports that two soldiers were missing in the community, multiple sources told SaharaReporters on Thursday.

SaharaReporters gathered that the soldiers went missing during a routine patrol in the community days after a communal crisis between towns in Konshisha and Oju LGAs.

According to reports, three soldiers were initially missing but one of them was later found.

It was learnt that troops of the Operation Whirl-Stroke (OPWS) on Wednesday and Thursday morning invaded the community.

The operation, which involved deployment of military helicopters using missile launchers, left scores of unarmed civilians dead and property said to worth billions of naira destroyed.

About 200 houses including the palace of Tyoor Unaha Kôkô in Agidi and several cars in village, which is now deserted were set ablaze by the soldiers.

Narrating the dastard act to SaharaReporters, a youth leader said, “We have lost over 50 unarmed civilians, more than five of my family members have been killed by the Nigerian Army. There are no bandits in Shangev-Tiev, a military General in Makurdi is using the Army to support his tribe in an age-long war over boundary demarcation.

“For over 3 days now, unarmed civilians have come under Nigeria military attack non-stop. Fulanis controlling the Armed Forces of Nigeria are assisting their numerous footsoldiers mobilised by Miyetti Allah in terrorising the civilians.

“They keep killing and destroying properties. How can you use fighter jet on harmless and armless citizens while negotiating ransom with bandit and terrorists?

“As we talk now, most residents have deserted their homes and are taking refuge at Tse- Agbaragba.”

Another resident asked the government to redeploy the soldiers ravaging the community to the various highways where the Boko Haram and herdsmen are presently terrorising and killing Nigerians.

He said, “Its quite sad amidst insecurity in other parts of Benue, Konshisha will be targeted by security personnels. My village has been reduced to ashes for no reason. This is not a Boko Haram. There is massive destruction and killing spree going on. The aged, women and children are not left out, among those killed and displaced. What human sense would warrant such attack and destruction?

“For days now, our people have been under flames, displaced and are massacred.“

Another resident said, “My grandfather’s house is in ruins, I hear. 2001, the Army burnt my fathers village and murdered my people. 20 years later, the Army is burning down my mothers home. 20 years after Zaki Biam, the Army has returned to Benue in the same fashion. This is not the way to go.”

Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has pledged to return peace to Konshisha and Oju while briefing journalists after an expanded Security Council Meeting with stakeholders from the two local government areas.

Ortom, who reiterated the need for Benue people to support security agents deployed to end crisis in their areas, admonished the people against attacks on security agents, which would make the situation extremely difficult to contain.

He explained that as part of measures to nip the land dispute between Konshisha and Oju in the bud, it was agreed that the boundary be demarcated and a day was fixed for the exercise.

According to the governor, a few days to the agreed date, crisis erupted again and security agents were deployed to control its escalation when the troops sent to Konshisha came under attack with two military personnel still missing.

Ortom condemned the practice of some communities engaging militia to fight their neighbours. He, however, vowed that such merchants of violence would be made to face the consequences of their actions. (Sahara reporters)

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Boko Haram Kills 7 Soldiers In An Ambush In Northeast Nigeria |The Republican News

■Troops killed in ambush in Borno state’s Marte local government area

By Adam Abu-bashal and Ahmet Gencturk

At least seven Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno state, reports said Wednesday.

According to the local press, troops with the 153rd Task Force Battalion in the Marte local government area were caught by surprise when the insurgents attacked them.

An armed clash erupted, during which seven soldiers died and many others were wounded.

The insurgents escaped following the attack, the reports noted.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Nigeria, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Violence committed by Boko Haram has affected some 26 million people in the Lake Chad region and displaced 2.6 million others, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Credits |AA

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How Military Destroyed Eastern Security Network Forest Camps In Imo State |The Republican News

Archive photo from the North

By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri

Hundreds of military operatives yesterday launched heavy attacks on the camps of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, in some parts of the forest Umunna in Orlu and Orsu local government areas of Imo state.

Vanguard investigation into the clashes was revealed that the military launched the attacks on hearing that the members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, had set up a base in the forest from where they would execute their operations.

Insider source who would not want his name mentioned explained how the operation started: “The military first visited the camp of the ESN, in Umunna in Orlu local government area and before they get there our men got the information and relocated. Not only that they also visited another camp they did not see anybody. So the military destroyed the camps of the ESN. Nobody was killed in this operation. But our people are living in fears.

Residents of the affected areas told Vanguard that the military started with a show of force.

Another villager who introduced himself as Chief Thomas Ndudi, gave his side of the story, “On Tuesday we saw over 30 trucks of military vehicle moving in their convoy moving in and out of Orlu in search of the members of the Eastern Security Network, they keep searching for them throughout Wednesday and on Thursday they discovered their camps and they started destroying them.

“The first day they even used a helicopter to hover around the forest locating the camps of the Eastern security network.

“The truth is that villages close to the forest are living in fears as the sound of guns and bombs have made them even running inside their houses and some of them abandoned their homes out of fear of being hit by a stray bullet.” (Vanguard News)

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Tension In Imo As Military Conducts Air Strikes To Dislodge Eastern Security Network Operatives |The Republican News

By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri

Hundreds of military operatives yesterday launched heavy attacks on the camps of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, in some parts of the forest Umunna in Orlu and Orsu local government areas of Imo state.

Vanguard investigation into the clashes was told that the military launched the attacks on hearing that the members of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, had set up a base in the forest from where they would execute their operations.

Insider source who would not want his name mentioned explained how the operation started: “The military first visited the camp of the ESN, in Umunna in Orlu local government area and before they get there our men got the information and relocated. Not only that they also visited another camp they did not see anybody. So the military destroyed the camps of the ESN. Nobody was killed in this operation. But our people are living in fears.

Also read: IPOB confirms recruitment of ‘5 retired soldiers’ into security network
Residents of the affected areas said to Vanguard that the military started with a show of force.

Another villager who introduced himself as Chief Thomas Ndudi, gave his own side of the story, “On Tuesday we saw over 30 trucks of military vehicle moving in their convoy moving in and out of Orlu in search of the members of the Eastern Security Network, they keep searching for them throughout Wednesday and on Thursday they discovered their camps and they started destroying them.

“The first day they even used a helicopter to hover around the forest locating the camps of the Eastern security network.

“The truth is that villages close to the forest are living in fears as the sound of guns have made them even running inside their houses and some of them abandoned their homes out of fear of being hit by a stray bullet.” (Vanguard News)

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‘No Where Is Safe Outside Maiduguri’ –Borno Elder Debunks Lies Of Military, FG |The Republican News

Prof. Khalifa Dikwa: no where is safe outside of Maiduguri


By Abankula

Prof. Khalifa Dikwa, Dean, Borno Elders Forum said contrary to the narrative by the military and the Federal Government, no where is safe outside of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

He said so bad is the security situation that not even 5km outside of Maiduguri is safe.

“Even if they (Boko Haram) are not physically there, they are psychologically there, disturbing the people,” Dikwa told Channels Television’s Newsnight on Monday.

“From time to time, they ride their motorcycles, come and harass them to pay levies and so on. Outside Maiduguri, no even five kilometres, nobody is safe. And they can strike at any time.”

Dikwa told Channels TV that the military did not heed the advice of the Private Military Contractor (PMC), to man the country’s land borders after they had “decimated” Boko Haram in 2014.

Dikwa was referring to the South Africans who were hired by Jonathan in 2014. By early 2015, they had flushed Boko Haram out of Nigeria’s territory, allowing for the holding of the elections in all the local councils.

The military turned round to claim the credit. Few years after, one of the South Africans expressed anger that the military frittered away the gains they recorded between 2014 and 2015.

When President Buhari ascended the throne in May 2015, he dispensed with the services of the contractors, by putting all his trust in the army, believing that they would safeguard the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

Dikwa recalled: “At that time, they (PMC) said, ‘okay, we have done our bit, the rest, it has to be political. Have dialogue at a position of strength,” the university don, added.

“And that you should allow the other paramilitary, particularly the police, to take over the terrain that you have recaptured. You (military) move to the borders.”

“Unfortunately, the military has continued to usurp the role of the police which is not supposed to be so,” Dikwa said.

Prof Dikwa who called for more collaboration among security agencies in the fight against insurgency noted that the military alone cannot fight the terrorism in Borno State.

“If you put all the military inside Borno, it will contain it,” he said, claiming that “It looks like there is no synergy between the security and defence agencies as if it is rivalry when they are actually working for this country and they signed to defend the people of this country and the territory.

“As a President, he should be able to stamp his feet to say ‘do the work, I am giving you one, two months maximum. If you don’t finish up this thing, submit your resignation letter.”

Dikwa also advised Buhari to decentralise the command structure in the army.

“If I were to have the ears of President Muhammadu Buhari and Commander-in-Chief, I will insist that the command system of the military be decentralised so that junior commanders could also give a command in case of threats”

“Even the police have their own way of neutralising the enemy rather than waiting. As long as the command is from top-down, it will not work”, he said.

Nigeria has been waging a war against the Boko Haram insurgents since 2009.

Claims that the insurgents have been ‘technically defeated”, have been proven to be hollow, as the terrorists still kill people and stage kidnappings, at will.

Over 35,000 people have been killed in the war.

Recently, chief of army staff, Lt. General Buratai said the war could last another 20 years.

He however promised in the New Year that the military will disgrace Boko Haram and ISWAP this year.

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Gen. Buratai,CoAS, Allegedly Awarded $444,000 Contract To His Girlfriend, Maryam – US Journalist

A US-based Nigerian journalist, Jackson Ude, has fingered the Chief of Army Staff, Gen T. Buratai in an alleged fraud, which

Tukur-Buratai

 

In a tweet he made on his official handle, he stated how the Chief of Army Staff, awarded a $444k (N160m) contract to his girlfriend.

Read his post below..

Chief of Army Staff, Gen T. Buratai awarded a contract of $444k to his girlfriend, Maryam. Funds paid thru the Nigerian Army Ordnance Tailoring Factory to one 313 Bureau De Change in Wuse Zone 4 Abuja. 313 wired the $444k to a Bank account in Dubai linked to Gen Burutai.

Mr Jackson has prior to the election revealed how the presidency cabal, namely Abba Kyari, Alhaji Funtua, Lawal Daura and Maman Daura have connived to defraud the DSS of N5 billion out of the N10 billion national budget for DSS to cover its national election budget.

BREAKING: N5bn Loot In DSS By Buhari’s Relatives Bursted, Whistblower Goes Public |RN

All these revelations meant nothing to President Buhari, who is purportedly fighting his own definition of corruption in his own terms, irrespective of the odds against such despicable charade.

 

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Armed Soldiers Shut Daily Trust, Arrest Editor, Reporter |The Republican News

Armed soldiers invaded Daily Trusthead office in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, hours after taking over the newspaper’s regional office in Maiduguri, Borno State and arrested the Regional Editor, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab.

They demanded to see some senior staff, among whom was the Political Editor, Hamza Idris.

At the Abuja headquarters of the newspaper, they reportedly forced the gate open and drove in with three Jokic vans loaded with armed soldiers.

Everyone in the building was asked to move to the ground floor while they moved the newspaper’s computers.

Last night, security operatives sealed up the premises of Media Trust Limited, publisher of Daily Trust newspaper; over Boko Haram stories.

The operatives, led by a Second Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army, arrived the Utako, Abuja premises at 6:00pm, with scores of soldiers and plain-cloth personnel. They immediately demanded to see some staff. The soldiers wore masks and cordoned off the Mafeni Crescent, off Solomon Lar Street of the newspaper.

Staff of the organisation, who gathered in group outside the office, told Daily Sun that the operatives,
on arrival, asked them to converge at the front yard of the office. After that, the soldiers, reportedly disconnected computers in the office, assembled and loaded them into their vehicles and drove away.

A statement by the Deputy Managing Director of the organisation, Mahmud Jega, said the soldiers still laid siege to the newspaper’s office, as at yesterday night.

Jega said: “Armed soldiers in several vehicles have laid siege to Daily Trust headquarters in Abuja. They have surrounded the premises, dismissed the Mobile Police guards and do not allow entry or exit. “

“Soldiers had earlier today (yesterday) entered Daily Trust’s office in Maiduguri and arrested two reporters, including the Bureau Chief, Usman Abubakar. They say it is regarding today’s lead story of Daily Trust on Sunday. Production has stopped.”

As at 8.30 pm soldiers were still manning the entrance and premises of the newspaper at Utako. Several staff of the organisation gathered in groups, on the street, and discussed the development. Meanwhile, the Lagos Bureau Office of the newspaper, was also, yesterday night, taken over by a combination of armed military and police officers.

The security operatives had earlier in the day besieged and shut down the Borno regional office of the news publication before arresting the regional editor and a reporter.

At about 9:00pm, seven security operatives’ vehicles were stationed within and outside the Lagos office premises situated at the Textile Labour House on Acme Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja.

Of the seven vehicles, two Hilux vans and one Rapid Response Squad (RRS) car were situated right in front of the Bureau office.

Four other Hilux vans were situated at the other side of the road, facing TheNews publishing house, a stone throw from Media Trust office.

About 15 soldiers and police officers were seen angling around the premises; as at the time of filing this report.

But, Defence Spokesman, Brigadier-General John Agim, described the newspaper’s Sunday publication as unpatriotic and capable of undermining the war against Boko Haram.

He told Daily Sun that the newspaper published highly classified details about a Boko Haram operation; which could ultimately hinder the war against insurgency.

In a development yesterday night, the Federal Government ordered the military to vacate Daily Trust’s offices.  (The Sun)

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Nigerian Military, Amnesty International Disagree Over Threat Allegation |RN

Army-invade-NUJ-Office-in-Aba

 

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Molly Kilete, Abuja

The Nigerian military and Amnesty International (AI)are at loggerheads over alleged threats and smear campaign.
AI said it has been the subject of threats and smear campaigns by the military since May 24 when it released a report, “They Betrayed Us,” which documented the prevalence of sexual violence against starving women and girls in satellite camps which are under the control of Nigerian soldiers and militia.

But, AI Director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, has vowed that they will not be deterred from defending human rights in the country.
In a statement by its Media Manager, Isa Sanusi, given to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, AI insisted it always  share findings of its investigations with the military before publication, requesting for its inputs but, “they either completely ignore these attempts to engage, or referred us to other arms of government, in a clear attempt to evade our questions.

“The Nigerian military is increasingly resorting to threats, intimidation and smears to discredit Amnesty International’s work documenting the human rights violations it has committed. On 24 May 2018, the organization released a report, “They Betrayed Us”, which documented the prevalence of sexual violence against starving women and girls detained in satellite camps under the control of Nigerian soldiers and militia.

“The Nigerian military responded by organising smear campaigns and issuing threats to “take action against Amnesty International.

“Rather than taking action to address the issues raised in this report, like investigating countless allegations of rape and other war crimes, the Nigerian military has fallen back on its usual hostile tactics of denials and threats,” said Ojigho.
Amnesty International has also released reports on the multiple, horrific cases of abuse carried out by Boko Haram and human rights violations by the Nigeria Police Force.

Regardless, the Nigerian Armed Forces have dismissed AI’s claims.

Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, who debunked the allegation said AI seems to be running away from its shadow as the military has never and will never reduce itself to begin to issue threats to any person or group of persons; no matter the level of provocation.

In his reaction to AI’s allegation, Agim challenged the international organisation to the state where, when and how the threat was issued to them.

He told Daily Sun, yesterday, that it is a known fact that AI has always communicated to the military through the media, with its series of allegations, instead of putting them in writing.

“Did they say we wrote a letter to them or we sent somebody?

“Those people are being pursued by their wickedness, not the military because we don’t have anything to do with them at all”

“We have never had any contact with AI.

“They don’t write to us so, where is this threat allegation coming from?

“In fact, they hold their press briefings and we respond through the media; we have never had any contact with AI

“So, the threat, did they read it on the pages of newspapers because they refused to deal with us?

“They prefer to hold international press conferences and tell lies against the military and we respond through the same international press conferences.

“We don’t have anything to do with them. We don’t have any contact with them.

“I don’t even know the person who is behind AI or where the person comes from

“Ask them if they ever have spoken to us. Have we ever written to them?

“We talk to the media just as they are writing to the media, so, where is the threat coming from?

“They have never contacted us in their write-ups and we, too, don’t contact them. We are talking in the media space. If they have done something wrong, they should be afraid.” (The Sun)

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Biafra Day: Five Killed, About 500 Arrested |The Republican News

By  Steve Uzoechi, Emmanuel Masha, Uchenna Inya, Kenneth Ofoma, Emmanuel Ifeanyi and Okegwo Kenechukwu

 

At least five people were feared killed yesterday while the police arrested more than 500 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) in the South-East and South-South regions. Several others were injured in clashes with police during rallies in support of planned declaration of the Biafra Republic and hoisting of the Biafran flag.

The rallies were held in major cities of Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers and Delta states. Five people were said to have been killed while four others were injured in Anambra State during the 18th anniversary of the “independence of the New Biafra” by the members of MASSOB. The Director of MASSOB Information, Mazi Chris Mocha, said in a statement that the celebration was in continuation of the desire of the group to achieve a sovereignty state of Biafra.

He said: “While we were gathered at the Onitsha-Owerri Road, by Obosi junction, a joint military task force, including the Army, Navy, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in over 45 Hilux vehicles shot five of our members dead. “About 206 members were arrested.

The arrested members included Chief Christian Ifejika, Declan Okafor, Gloria Umejesi, Rose Oforbike, Fidelis Oduenyi, and 173 others.” Mocha said that four persons – Chief Vincent Iloh, Ebuka Emmanuel, Innocent Okolie and Mrs Virginia Ubazuonu – received machete cuts on their heads from the Joint Task Force (JTF) members in their desperate attempt to disperse the crowd. When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Haruna Mohammed, said he was not aware of any arrest or killing. In Imo State, about 84 members of Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led MASSOB and BIM were arrested by the police in Owerri.

According to the Owerri Zonal Leader of MASSOB/BIM, Mr Samuel Njoku, some members of the group were arrested while conducting a press briefing at the old Timber market (Ogbo Osisi) on Wetheral Road, Owerri, while others were arrested on their way to the rally from Orlu, Mgbidi, Ngor Okpala, Mbaise and Okigwe.

On the reason for their rally, Njoku explained that “since the end of the Civil War in 1970, no Igbo was courageous enough to mention Biafra until Chief Uwazuruike launched MASSOB on September 13, 1999, and on May 22, 2000, declared and hoisted the flag for the new Biafra.”

According to him, the uniqueness of May 22 anchored on its historic importance makes the day a big event for the struggle for the emancipation of Biafran people.

The state PPRO, Andrew Enwerem, said arrested members of BIM/MASSOB were separatists who were nabbed by security operatives of the command from various parts of the state. He said the arrests were based on intelligence information that MASSOB/BIM members were about to conduct themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace. As early as 7:30a.m., security men were stationed at various entry points of Owerri, to stop MASSOB members from joining the rally while others were also stationed at various local government areas.

Despite the heavy security presence, the demonstrators were able to arrive in buses from nearby council areas of the state with Biafra flags and placards bearing various inscriptions depicting commitment to the Biafran state, wearing Biafran military uniforms and chanting Biafran songs and solidarity slogans.

At least 10 members of MASSOB and BIM were arrested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Hundreds of Biafra supporters outside Rivers had stormed Port Harcourt to mark the event, starting a procession at Mile Market and were heading towards Eleme Junction before they were intercepted around Garrison Junction by security operatives.

The security men thereafter released tear gas into the air and arrested 10 of the protesters, mostly those wearing military and NSCDC camouflage. Those that were arrested, according to some of the Biafra supporters, were subsequently taken to the Olu-Obasanjo Police Station in Port Harcourt. Meanwhile, the state PPRO, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said he was not aware of the arrest. The leader of MASSOB in the state, Solomon Chukwu, lamented that the arrest was unnecessary, noting that they only embarked on a procession and did not engage in any violent behaviour.

Police, soldiers and other security agents arrested scores of members for MASSOB and BIM in Abakaliki in Ebonyi State. Security agencies in the state accosted them on Nkaliki Road as they started the peaceful march, fired tear gas at them and arrested some of them. Army, Department of State Security (DSS) and the police carried out the joint operation. Commander of the Nigerian Military Cantonment in Nkwegu, Col. S. O. Sadiq, confirmed the participation of the Army in the arrest of the Biafra agitators.

He said all the arrested persons were handed over to the police. Sadiq said that MASSOB did not notify security agencies in the state of the event in writing which he said necessitated the arrest. The state PPRO, Loveth Odah, confirmed the incident but could not give the actual number of persons arrested.

“I don’t have the details of the actual number of persons arrested right now when I get the full details I will let you know,” she said. Ebonyi Central MASSOB/BIM leader, Gideon Iloke, said: “Today, we are celebrating Biafra Independence.

We are happy that the world authorities have recognised Biafra as an independent state and that is why throughout the federation, South-South and South-East are celebrating Biafra independence. We also agreed that all the states under Biafra must gather to celebrate the greatness of Biafra because we are grateful for what God has done to us.”

In Aba, Abia State, the police arrested 115 members of MASSOB. The Zonal Leader of the group, for Abia South, Mr Fredrick Onyenucheya, disclosed that the police, aside from arresting 115 members of his group, injured many others.

Onyenucheya, flanked by Chief Obi Anyaogu (leader Abia Central) and Pastor Evans Okoronkwo (Abia North MASSOB/BIM leader), claimed that they were holding peaceful rally to mark this year’s anniversary at Umuorieoma on the Osisioma axis of the Enugu-Aba- Port Harcourt Expressway when policemen in over 20 Hilux vans arrived at the location.

He said that the group members numbering over 200 gathered at Umuorieoma junction by 9a.m. and were peacefully dancing and marching towards No 175, Faulks to hoist the Biafran flag which will mark the 18th-anniversary re-restoration of the sovereign state of Biafra in the year 2000.” The Abia State Commissioner of Police, Anthony Ogbizi, confirmed the arrest of 47 members of MASSOB and BIM in Aba. Ogbizi said those arrested included men and women and were being held in detention in Aba.

He said that although they were peaceful during their march, they were arrested because they wore Army camouflage uniforms and had Biafra flags and insignia in their hands. He said: “We are profiling them and when we finish they would be charged accordingly. “The legal department is there.

They will advise us before we know what else to do.” Also, police in Enugu arrested an undisclosed number of members of MASSOB and BIM for allegedly breaching public peace. The state PPRO, SP Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrest in a statement, advised residents to go about their lawful businesses.

Amaraizu said the state Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, had “warned against any act or omission by any individual or group of persons under any guise capable of disrupting the existing peace in the state.” Meanwhile, the Imo State correspondent of the Punch newspaper, Emeka Ihiegbulem, was brutally assaulted by policemen for attending a press briefing by the MASSOB.

While the policemen dealt him blows, soldiers and personnel of the NSCDC also shoved him around. Ihiegbulam was in the midst of the MASSOB members, trying to clarify an issue raised when policemen, who were later followed by soldiers, stormed the area; cordoned off the rally and forced everyone including journalists to sit on the ground.

Ihiegbulam said: “I sat down on the ground with all the MASSOB members. I brought out my identity card and my recorder telling the officers that I am a journalist on an assignment and that I was not a MASSOB member.

They ignored my explanations, arrested me alongside the MASSOB members and marched us all into a lorry to the police headquarters.” Ihiegbulam’s beating started when a soldier and policemen tried to force him to hang a Biafran flag around his neck to give the impression he was arrested with the flag.

The man firmly refused while brandishing his identity card and work tools. His refusal infuriated the policemen; while one snatched his identity card, recorder and jotter from him, another slapped him from the back of his head. He was trying to see who slapped him when a heavy wooden club landed on his head. At the State Police Command Headquarters, Ihiegbulam was forced to sit on the ground. But Commander, MOPOL 18, who identified Ihiegbulam among the ‘suspects,’ ordered him out of the ground.        (New Telegraph)

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