MASSOB holds rallies to mark anniversary in Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Anambra

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving in Katsina State during a visit to the President at Daura, Katsina... yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving in Katsina State during a visit to the President at Daura, Katsina… yesterday.

• Reiterates stand on sovereign Biafra
• President dismisses agitation
• Nigeria is big enough for all, he says

Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday held rallies in Cross River, Imo and Enugu states to mark its 17th anniversary. It vowed that Biafra has come to stay.

The MASSOB members, who took to the streets of Ikom after gathering at the town stadium, said the militarisation of the Niger Delta or the South-East would not solve the problem as “the use of force could only give you peace of the graveyard.”

According to them, the only solution is to allow those seeking independence to take their fate in their hands by going their own way, stressing that if Biafra’s case was settled peacefully at a roundtable conference 50 years ago, there would not have been need for the current agitation.

But President Muhammadu Buhari has called on those agitating for Biafra in the South-East to jettison the idea and join hands with others to build the country. Receiving the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving in Daura Local Council in his residence yesterday, President Buhari, who pledged his unalloyed commitment to unity and prosperity of the country, told corps members from the south-eastern states to tell their colleagues who wanted Biafra to forget about it.

He said: “Please tell your colleagues that we must be together to build this country. It is big enough for us and potentially big enough in terms of resources.” Addressing the rally, zonal leader of the movement in the state, Mr. Samuel Okah, said: “Biafra has come to stay and there is nothing anyone can do about it or stop the actualisation of the Biafra nation.

“It has been 17 years of peaceful agitation by the people of Biafra led by Chief Ralph Uwazurike and we are making steady progress for the coming to fruition of our efforts, which is a clear demonstration of the fact that peaceful efforts get more mileage than violence.”

Also, the group yesterday alleged the arrest of over 200 of its members who were billed for the anniversary at Ede-Oballa Road, Nsukka, Enugu State, by soldiers.
They were said to be wearing Biafran gears and flags at the time of arrest.Speaking during the anniversary in the state yesterday, its leader, Uchenna Madu, said that no amount of intimidation, persecution and brutality at the hands of security officials would dim the spirit of the members. He renewed the call for the unconditional release of members of the group clamped in various cells, including Nnamdi Kanu.

He added: “We know and understand that freedom can never be achieved on a platter of gold; persecutions and political subjections always strengthen the zeal of genuine freedom fighters. The more a freedom fighter is politically-incarcerated, the more he becomes hardened and the more his followers become uncontrollable.

“As we celebrate, we want to demand the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Emmanuel Otuu, Benjamin Nwawuisi, Mmadubugwu of IPOB, Benjamin Onwuka of BZM, Innocent Orji, Sabastine Amadi and 23 other detained MASSOB members at Awka and Onitsha prisons and to say that their continued incarceration will not dim our collective struggle for Biafra.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police (CP) in Imo State, Taiwo Lakanu, said his command was in charge to ensure members of MASSOB and Biafran Independence Movement (BIM), did not record any casualty while celebrating the anniversary.

In a statement, Lakanu said as early as 4:00 a.m., he was on ground in the nooks and crannies of the state to ensure no problems during the rallies.The leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, in a statement signed by the state co-ordinator and Secretary, Mazi Lotachukwu Ikeogu and Sabastine Muonso, said: “Imo State MASSOB join millions of other members worldwide in celebrating our long walk to freedom. Today, we remember the brutalities of our members, the mesmerisation, detention, imprisonment and killings of our members. We also remember the traumatic torture, massacre of armless MASSOB members at Umulolo Okigwe on March 29, 2003. We remember the uncelebrated deaths of our gallant fallen heroes, the traumatic deaths of the parents of our members because of shock.

“MASSOB can never forget the death of the first two Biafra martyrs, Gabriel Ogu from Mbaise and Joseph Okereke from Ngor Okpala, both in Imo State. They willingly gave their lives in defence of the Biafran flag at Faulks Road, Aba on May 22, 2000 when MASSOB hoisted it. We remember our members who are still in detention because of their belief in Biafra.

“As we celebrate our 17th anniversary, Imo State MASSOB charges Ndigbo to stop too much talking on sensitive issues concerning the lives and future of our people but concentrate much on building synergies, strategies and community-based watchdog for the security of our people.”

As the joint security task force set up by Governor Willie Obiano administration, comprising soldiers, police, Navy, civil defence, cordoned off sections of Onitsha-Owerri Road, the MASSOB and BIM members recorded a successful celebration in Onitsha.

Anambra North Zonal Leader, Emmanuel Omenka, who addressed members at Onitsha, urged supporters of Biafra to have patience because the day of freedom is near. He said the present call for restructuring by some segments of the country came about as a result of the fear for Biafra independence by those who have tied the country down.

Also, a faction of MASSOB led by Uchenna Madu, in a statement issued in Awka, Anambra State capital, said the Biafra agitators would seize the occasion to remember those who lost their lives in the course of the struggle.

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