By Ugochukwu Alaribe, Umuahia
The Nigerian Army, 14vBrigade, Ohafia, Abia State, has handed over 27 pro-Biafra protesters to the State Police Command in Umuahia.
The pro-Biafra members, comprising 4 females and 23 males, were arrested by soldiers in Aba, while during a protest. Military sources told Vanguard that the pro-Biafra protesters claimed that they were members of the Biafran Army; an arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, when they were arrested.
The sources disclosed that a first aid box, charms and AK47 rifle belonging to the police were recovered from them. “We got information that a group of IPOB members were demonstrating. On reaching our gate, we approached them with the aim of discouraging them from continuing with the protest.
It was while we were talking to them, that one of the soldiers sighted one of them bringing out a gun from a bag. The soldier fired at him and we secured the gun. One of them who ran away had a pistol fall off from him which he picked and continued running.
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“Army doesn’t prosecute. It is the duty of the police to do so. IPOB remains proscribed and their activity is illegal. So, the hand over is to enable police to continue with the investigation and possible prosecution,” the army source stated.
Meanwhile, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, who in a statement, denied that those paraded by soldiers were IPOB members, but however, demanded their immediate release.
IPOB said it was unfortunate that the Army would abandon her constitutional role of protecting the lives and properties of innocent citizens to descend to the level of hooding those who have decided to seek their legitimate right to self-determination.
“While we maintain that those unfortunate victims seen on video being molested by Nigerian soldiers are not IPOB family members, we, nonetheless, demand for their unconditional release. If the reason for this blatantly stage-managed arrest and accompanying evocative and misleading press statement by the Nigerian army is to dent the global image of IPOB, then they have failed spectacularly.
“Those that Nigerian Army claimed they arrested are not IPOB members. The only people moving around in Biafra land with illegal weapons such as the AK47 Buratai’s henchmen alluded to in their press release are their fellow herdsmen.”