By Davies Iheamnachor
THERE was panic yesterday as over 15 Pro-Biafran agitators, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, were allegedly shot by security operatives and about 70 arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Port Harcourt.
IPOB had organised a solidarity match in Port Harcourt to commensurate with the new president of America, Donald Trump, on his swearing in ceremony. But the planned match by the IPOB could not hold as the security in the state barred the protesters, who are loyal to the incarcerated Nnamdi Kanu. The Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni had warned the IPOB not to carry on with protest, describing it as illegal.
Omoni noted that no official permit was obtained by the IPOB in respect of the planned demonstration, adding that any protest in the state would amount to disregard for law. The members of IPOB had started the rally from Olu-obasanjo road through Waterlines where they joined others who were on Aba road to continue through Aba road.
But the peaceful demonstration allegedly turned bloody when the military interrupted the rally at Garrison-St. John, and Artillery axis areas of Port Harcourt, beating and flogging protesters who disobeyed the order to pass through the military barricades.
Speaking, MASSOB Director of Information, Rivers State Command, Mr. Anuken Anthony, who claimed that a notification was sent to security operatives on the rally confirmed over 70 people were arrested and 15 shot by the security personnel.
“For now, over 70 supporters of MASSOB and IPO have been arrested and about 15 of them are in the painful mood due to the bullet wounds. Our members have taken some of them to the hospital; we are praying that nothing should happen to any of them. “I wonder where on earth the soldiers would brutalize the innocent peaceful protesters; our support for Donald Trump cannot be deterred by military intimidation and harassment. We were not violent in today’s rally. We were only showing solidarity to American President who we take as one of our own.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ugo Alison, who was seen in the pool of his blood, told Sunday Vanguard that he was shot by the soldiers after he had informed the operatives that they were only carrying out a rally in solidarity with swearing in of US President as part of effort to actualize their struggle for freedom.
One of the victims, Mr. Benson Paul said: “I was dancing during the rally as we got to St. John Junction we saw military asking us to go back. But we told them that we were matching in solidarity for Donald Trump’s inauguration but they refused to allow us go our way.”