Ohanaeze Ndigbo flays killing of IPOB members
IGP accused of providing smoking gun to nail protesters
St Edmund Catholic Church parish priest denies arrest
By Emeka Mamah, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara,Francis Igata, Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Chinedu Adonu
Awka—MANY relations of injured victims of the Biafra Day clash between security operatives and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in parts of Anambra State were believed to be moving them out of the hospitals where they were initially admitted for treatment to unknown places for fear that members of the state’s Joint Security Task Force might be hunting for them.
This came on the heels of an allegation by the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule Law, a civil rights group, that security operatives shot, killed, picked corpses and buried the victims in unknown places.
Vanguard gathered that between Monday and yesterday, scores of shot victims were removed from some of the hospitals where they were admitted after the clash and taken to undisclosed clinics within and beyond the state by their relatives and sympathizers.
Some of the relations said they received information that the victims might be arrested on their hospital beds if they were found in the hospitals.
According to them, apart from high medical bills and other financial challenges, there were fears that soldiers might storm the hospitals to abduct them.
In the meantime, the chairman of board of trustees of INTERSOCIETY, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalsi, said that investigations by his organization showed that the casualty figures were swelling in number on a daily basis.
He said that information at the disposal of the organization showed that 14 critically injured persons were at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, 15 at the Multicare Hospital, Nkpor and nine at St. Mary’s Hospital, Nnewi.
He also said that there were scores of others in other private hospitals, such as Crown and St Michael Hospitals in Nkpor, while others were at Okija, Asaba, among other places.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of Igbo Improvement Union, Chief Edozie Njoku, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to address the issue of MASSOB and IPOB carefully and without bias.
In a statement made available to Vanguard, Njoku said IPOB did not do more harm than the herdsmen, who had been ravaging parts of the country and yet security operatives had not reacted the way they did to IPOB.
He said: “The Fulani herdsmen are committing more harm than the IPOB and MASSOB and there has not been any reprisal from the Federal Government. Those of us who supported the president during election must now start crying out and we want to say that enough is enough.
“There is no justification for soldiers to kill innocent protesters. The president is supposed to be father to all Nigerians and my advice is that he and his advisers should re-strategize on how to deal with issues of this nature.”
Catholic priest denies arrest
Meanwhile, residents of Nkpor near Onitsha were yesterday allegedly thrown into panic, while some ran away from their homes to take refuge inside the bush following alleged sporadic shooting by soldiers, who invaded the place at about 7.30p.m.
The incident, according to an eye witness, took people who were returning from the day’s business activities by surprise.
The soldiers were said to have on arrival started shooting into the air to scare people away which made some to pass the night inside the bush, from where they were making calls to their friends and well-wishers to narrate their ordeal.
Calls to Vanguard by two of the victims alleged that the soldiers came to arrest the parish priest and catechist of St Edmund’s Catholic Parish, Maryland, Nkpor Agu in Idemili North Local Government Area, Rev. Fr. Dave Ojukwu and Ejima Ofoegbu respectively.
However, when newsmen visited the church yesterday morning, the parish priest, Rev. Ojukwu was seen walking around the church and when asked to confirm his alleged arrest by soldiers, he said nothing like that happened, adding that he had received a lot of calls from well-wishers about his alleged arrest.
According to him: “You can see me walking around the church. I am doing this to dispel the rumour that I was arrested yesterday night. I want to tell you that nothing like that happened. Nobody arrested me.”
Ohanaeze flays killings
In another development, the pan-Igbo cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has condemned the killing of members of MASSOB and IPOB, saying it is outrageous and traumatizing.
A statement by the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nworgu, and made available to Vanguard, yesterday, stated that they were unimpressed and unconvinced by the talk of provocation.
The Igbo group therefore urged the Federal Government as well as the Anambra State government to set up an investigative panel with a view to finding out what happened on Monday, May 30, 2016.
According to them, the attack on innocent people by the security operatives on a day the pro-Biafra activists were peacefully demonstrating was uncalled for.
“What level of provocation will warrant the firing of tear gas, without first calling on a crowd to disperse? The tear gas was followed by a salvo of gunfire with live-bullets.All Nigerians and indeed all people who like humanity must condemn in its entirety this heinous display of brutality. This is everything except gallantry,” they added.
They also noted: “The two organizations are sworn believers in non-violence. They say, and we believe them that they were totally unarmed at the time of the onslaughts. The Igbo nation is outraged and condemns these killings in strongest terms. Such never happens whether under the military dictatorship or democracy. Ndigbo are known democrats from time immemorial. We believe in competition. We are not a violent people.
“We are unhappy with the continued bloodletting visited on our people and want such nefarious events to cease forthwith.”
Condoling with the families of those killed and sympathizing with the injured, the Igbo group warned that such events should never occur in their land.
Spurred by the statemement accredited to the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, IPOB has accused the IGP of allegedly making false allegations against the group, saying that his directive to the police to disarm its members was a way of “providing the smoking gun” with which the Department of State Services, DSS, would convince the judge trying its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, that IPOB was a violent organisation.
IPOB made this known in a statement by its Spokespersons, Emma Nmezu and Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya, yesterday.
“You can tell all the lies in the world and try to manufacture evidence for your colleagues in the DSS so that they can use it against the leader of IPOB, but the incontrovertible fact is that nobody can stop the restoration of the nation of Biafra,” they said, wondering why Arase had not reacted to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that armed Fulani herdsmen be disarmed and their sophisticated weapons taken away from them.
Archbishop Obinna reacts
Meantime,the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, has reacted angrily at the way he was linked to the protest march of loyalists of IPOB, and MASSOB, in Anambra State.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard in Owerri, yesterday, Archbishop Obinna said he chose to react “for the sake of those, who may have been misled by internet or media reports about my presence in Onitsha, on May 30, 2016.”
The Archbishop explained that he left Owerri for Anambra State, for the funeral of Rev. Sr. Innocentia Ehirim at the Immaculate Heart Convent, Nkpor.
“After the Holy Mass and the burial of the Rev. Sister, and in the process of returning to Owerri through the same Nkpor-Onitsha route through which we came, we noticed that burning tyres had been set up by youths blocking and preventing the normal flow of traffic,” Obinna recalled,stressing that he was accompanied on the trip by a good number of priests, religious and laity, since the late Sr. Innocentia had worked for 10 years in the Archdiocese of Owerri, before her later postings.
“From Ihiala, signs of unrest began to be seen with unusual road blocks. In my case, we arrived at our destination without much inconvenience.”