Scores of pro-Biafran groups continue protest in Imo
The protesters, mainly members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), carried placards with inscriptions calling for the sovereign State of Biafra.
Yesterday’s protests followed similar agitations in Anambra, Enugu, Abia and Rivers states.
As at the time of filing this report, there was no casualty recorded, but the IPOB members and a handful of sympathisers were seen carrying Biafra-promoting placards and chanting “We want Biafran State,” along the ever-busy Douglas Road, Owerri.
Policemen seen around were careful not to record casualties, but the protesters also conducted themselves peacefully. The pro-Biafra protests had begun on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has denied reports on the social media that its personnel shot and killed pro-Biafra protesters in some Eastern parts of the country.
It said the policemen conducted their duties responsibly and professionally.
A statement by Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Olabisi Kolawole, yesterday said the “false posts on Facebook and other social media, accusing police of shooting, maiming and even killing members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” were unfounded.
She said even though the demonstrators took “their protests to streets, markets and other public places in some eastern states of Nigeria, infringing on the rights and freedom of innocent citizens who were ordinarily going about their lawful businesses,” and provoked the policemen on duty, the police “maintained and managed the situation with high sense of responsibility and professionalism.”
She reiterated the assurance of Inspector General Solomon Arase that “the Nigeria Police Force is conscious of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association amongst others as enshrined in Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), and cannot afford to maim or kill citizens exercising these rights.”
He said it must be noted that police personnel were duty-bound to protect the rights of all Nigerians, tasking officers in state commands to ensure that citizens embarking on rallies and other peaceful demonstrations are provided adequate security in line with the standard operational practice of the NPF.
While calling on all law-abiding citizens to disregard the allegations which she described as false and calculated attempt to attract undue attention and sympathy, IGP Arase said the interference of the elders of Igbo extraction was imperative at this time to save the affected states from drifting into anarchy.