Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Two feared killed in pro-Biafra protest

TWO pro-Biafra protesters were on Tuesday feared killed by purported stray bullets from the police after thousands of youths trekked about 40 kilometres from Aba to Port Harcourt in protest against the continued detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Apart from the two feared dead, three persons, who sustained gunshot injuries, were said to have been rushed to an undisclosed hospital located in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In the wake of the fresh protest, Governor Nyesom Wike announced a ban on street protest with immediate effect.

Wike, who announced the ban in a statewide broadcast on Tuesday night, following the violent protest embarked upon by some pro-Biafra groups, criticised the movement of the protesters from neighbouring states into Rivers State.

He said, “After due consultations with the members of the State Security Council, and in the exercise of my constitutional responsibility to preserve the safety, security and corporate integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is hereby ordered that all forms of street protests, demonstrations, rallies or unlawful gatherings associated with the agitations for the secession of any group from the Federal Republic of Nigeria are banned in Rivers State.”

The protesters went violent after they learnt that some of their colleagues, who were intercepted by a group of riot policemen at the Eleme axis of Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway, were attacked.

It was learnt that the protesters were the members and supporters of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, who were bent on taking their protest to the Government House in Port Harcourt.

It was gathered that the protesters had defied the teargas canisters shot by the policemen at Oyigbo and moved up to Artillery Bus Stop on the Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway where the police refused to allow them to proceed further.

One Mr. Orji Izuka, disclosed that two persons were shot and killed at the Eleme Junction by security operatives when the protesters refused to move backward.

The protesters, who later became violent, pulled down Nigerian flags wherever they were seen, while motorists, who failed to chant the Biafra song, got their vehicles smashed by the irate youths.
Chanting war songs, some of the youths stamped their feet on the ground as they surged along the road even as the police tried to stop them around Oyigbo Local Government Area.

It was gathered that the protesting youths, who also called for the secession of some South-East states from the country, vowed not to relent until their objectives were achieved.

Cletus Onyeche, an eyewitness, who spoke on the incident, said, “The protest today was violent and the police were able to manage the situation. If the police had done otherwise, there would have been bloodbath today.

“The protesters did not stop moving forward even when the riot policemen shot teargas canisters into the air. Their plan was to move into Port Harcourt and end their protest around the Government House gate.”

Another eyewitness, who did not mention his name, said, “I salute the professional way the police handled the matter; if not, there would have been casualties. The police, after battling for hours to stop the protesters, had to surrender before escorting them (protesters) as they were moving.
“They were pulling down Nigerian flags, throwing stones at banks offices and even beating up people that refused to chant solidarity songs,” the eyewitness said.

The pro-Biafra demonstration had paralysed business activities in Port Harcourt and its environs as traders closed their shops in order to secure their goods from those who might want to hijack the protest and engage in looting.

But the Rivers State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, insisted that no person was shot by the police.

Mohammad, who explained that the police were monitoring the protest, added that information before him was that nobody was killed and none was injured.

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