By Chioma Gabriel, Emeka Mamah, Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—Palpable tension is building up in the south east as the Abia State Police command has arrested 51 suspected members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, who held procession on some streets of Umuahia.
The suspects were 10 females and 41 males, who police said disguised as Jewish worshippers to confuse the people of the state. The command claimed they were out to cause disorder and breach the peace in the state.
But in a swift reaction, the suspects maintained that they are Jewish adherents performing one of their religious obligation of end of year procession and was not out to cause any trouble.
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, condemned the arrest, saying what the people did was in conformity with the Jewish religion.
“They are Jewish faithful in solidarity with the Biafran cause. What they did was right. We support them. Even the other religious bodies such as Catholic and Anglican have their own periods when they hold their own procession ceremonies. They performed their religious obligation and they have sympathy for Biafra. We were not involved but we support what they did,” Comrade Uchenna Madu, leader of MASSOB said in a telephone interview.
IPOB condemns arrest of members
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has condmned what they called “the arrest and continued clampdown on Jewish worshipers who were doing peaceful rally and sensitisation for Biafra referendum.”
IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, said in a statement: “IPOB leadership will not fail to notify Jewish community all over the world, particularly Jewish worshipers in Israel and other parts of the world over the arrest of Jewish church members who were peacefully protesting for Biafra freedom in Umuahia today (yesterday).
“We are warning Abia State Police Commissioner to release the 54 innocent citizens of Biafra who were doing peaceful evangelism in Umuahia for Biafra freedom.
“We blame Okezie Ikpeazu and Abia Police Commissioner for the damage this action may cause in Abia state if they fail to release these innocent Jewish worshipers exercising their rights.
Red alert in Enugu
In a similar vein, the Enugu State Police Command has placed its personnel on red alert. The State Police Commissioner, Danmalam Mohammed ordered all policemen to come out for a “show of force march” through out the urban areas of the state to disuade the Biafran agitators from organising similar protest marches in Enugu State.
According to top police sources at Nsukka, “intelligence at the disposal of the command indicate that IPOB/MASSOB have scheduled tomorrow (today) as a day for 10 million man March in Umuahia and there is the possibility of spill over, hence the police commissioner has directed all the divisional police officers, the Police Mobile Force, PMF, Special Anti- Robbery Squads, SARS and anti- cult units,” to be on red alert.