A team made up of soldiers, policemen and officials of the State Security Service (SSS), on Monday, vandalised some of the offices belonging to the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), killing at least 16 people while 23 people were lying in critical conditions in hospitals in Onitsha.
We gathered that over 500 members of MASSOB were in the SSS custody between Monday and Tuesday morning.
According to the National Director of Information MASSOB, Uchenna Mmadu, the raid on their offices by the security operatives was undeserved, adding that it was a renewed plot by the army to resume the systematic clampdown on MASSOB.
Giving a detailed account of the incident, Chief Arize Igbani, Onitsha Region 4 administrator of MASSOB, narrated that at about 5.00 p.m., a detachment of security operatives, numbering over 50, stormed MASSOB office on ‘Pam Pam’ lane in the main market and vandalised the office, after setting the Biafran flag ablaze.
Igbani said that the team invaded MASSOB’s central office on Owerri road, where a security meeting of the group was holding and opened fire on the people, “killing about 16 of our members and arresting over 200 and also made away with the corpses.”
According to him, the renewed offensive against the non-violent movement was a violation of their rights. “MASSOB is non-violent and we have assisted the security operatives in fishing out criminals, especially in Onitsha where we have handed over 15 notorious armed robbers and car snatchers to the police.”
The MASSOB leaders thereafter demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all their members that were arrested, while warning security operatives to desist from further attacks on MASSOB offices and to respect the sanctity of the Biafran flag.
However, we gathered that trouble started after a large number of youths from Obosi, heavily armed with gun and other sophisticated weapons, invaded Okpoko community to demand tenement rates from the residents, unleashed terror on the community and dispossessed people of their belongings.
It was further gathered that the rampaging youth wore MASSOB insignia, chanting Biafran war songs and this apparently prompted the raid on MASSOB offices by the security operatives who were hunting the assailants.
When contacted, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Emeka Chukwuemeka, said he was aware of the operation but was yet to be officially briefed on the number of arrests made.