Posted by News Express | 1 December 2015 | 5,814 times
Over seven thousand members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday shut down markets and all commercial activities in Nnewi, Anambra, State in solidarity protest for the release of the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who has been incarcerated by the Directorate of State Services, DSS, for over one month.
Members of the IPOB mobilised from Onitsha, Asaba, Awka, Ekwulobia, Awka-Etiti, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia states, converged at Nnewi from where they marched to the house of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to ask for his blessing even in death.
According to one of the commanders, of IPOB, Mr. Emeka Onwane, the protest was a warning signal to the Federal Government to make sure that Kanu, who he said, would appear in court today is released without further delay.
Onwane said they decided to shut down Nnewi and made sure there were no commercial and business activities to further press home their demand for Kanu’s release without which he said there would be no peace in Nigeria.
He said the protest would last for three days, and they chose Nnewi for the mother of all rallies as it is the home-town of the former Biafra war lord, late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu.
“IPOB is looking up to the international community including the United States, Russia, France and every other countries excluding Britain which is the enemy of Biafra. We are not talking about Igbo presidency; we are talking about an independent nation of Biafra. So, we are looking up to world leaders to help us actualize Biafra,” he said.
The protesters moved from St. Mary Junction to Nkwo Nnewi market, down to the express way leading to Nnewi Area Command, through Odumegwu Ojukwu’s residence to Owerri Road, Nkwo Nnewi Triangle and later headed for Awka-Etiti through Nnobi.
Onwane said their journey was an endless one but assured that it would all be peaceful as they displayed placards with inscriptions as ‘Free Nnamdi Kanu,’ ‘Free Biafra,’ ‘No Biafra, no peace,’ ‘We want Biafra now,’ ‘Biafra now or never.’
In Aba, Abia State, members of the group warned traders across markets not to open for business today.
IPOB members visited Ariaria International, Ngwa Road, Cemetery and Ekeoha markets with public address system announcing to the traders to shut their shops.
A cross section of traders, who spoke to Vanguard condemned the order and appealed to the IPOB members to allow the markets open.
According to them: “They should allow the markets open. Any trader, who wants to join the protest is free, but a total closure of the market will hurt us severely.”
A trader, Mrs. Nwamaka Nnadi, who also faulted the ‘order,’ said the announcement warning traders to steer clear of the markets started on Sunday, as some pro Biafra agitators were observed in some areas, ‘spreading the message.’
But traders under the aegis of South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) yesterday stated that they were in total support of the pro-Biafra groups but condemned the invasion of markets by the agitators.
The traders said that contrary to media reports that they were against Biafra agitation, they were indeed in support of the efforts to restore Biafra through non-violence and not through violent agitation as obtained in the recent protests embarked upon by the agitators during which they forcefully entered into the markets and harassed the traders for opening their shops.
President-General of SEAMATA, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo in a press statement he jointly signed with the Secretary-General, Mr. Temple Udeh, noted that in as much as the traders support the movement for the state of Biafra, they were in total condemnation of a situation where the pro-Biafra agitators/protesters allowed themselves to be infiltrated by some miscreants who cashed in on the protest to loot and do all sorts of things in the markets.
SEAMATA further stated that the invasion of the markets by Biafra supporters in the name of protest which led to vandalisation and destruction of shops, vehicles and other valuables belonging to their fellow Igbo was not only condemnable but unacceptable.
He added: “To set the record straight and for the purpose of clarity, the traders are not challenging the constitutional right of peaceful assembly of any one. We only condemn the attitude of the protesters (or miscreants that infiltrated them) that went into markets, chased the traders out and closed the entrances to the market.”
•Excerpted from a Vanguard report. Photo shows Biafra activists.
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