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The Police in Ebonyi State on Monday arrested some clergymen who were conducting an inter-denominational service for members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
It was gathered that policemen numbering over 200 stormed the Nkaliki Primary School, field, Abakaliki, venue for the 2016 Biafran day celebration of the group, midway into the service and arrested the clergymen as well as other members.
The Zonal Leader of MASSOB in charge of Ebonyi North, John Nwifuru, flanked by a member of the Elders-In-Council in charge of Ebonyi anniversary, Moses Eze, confirmed this at a briefing in Abakaliki.
According to him “over 320 members of the MASSOB were also arrested by the Command during the Biafra Day celebration”.
It was also gathered that the command also teargassed the protesters ceaselessly during the operation.
“Some of those arrested were just clergymen who we invited to conduct inter-denominational church service as part of activities marking the celebration”. These policemen don’t seem to have respect for God, why would they arrest his anointed men?”
He accused the Police of carting away valuables belonging to members of the movement which he said included vehicles, over 93 motorcycles and other items for offertory.
He said, “We were at Nkaliki primary school field observing interdenominational church service when policemen numbering over 200 operating in over 40 hilux vans stormed the area shooting sporadically in the air before they threw tear gas canister on us before arresting our clergymen who were conducting church service. They carried plantains, bananas, and other consumables which members brought as their offering during the church service.”
He called for the unconditional release of those arrested in the state and other parts of the country during the peaceful celebration which he said was in commemoration of the declaration of the state of Biafra by late warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, over 49 years ago.
Police spokesman,George Okafor, could not be reached for comments as calls to his mobile phones were unanswered as at the time of filling this report.
But a top security source in the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident.
“Yes, MASSOB members were arrested today as they were planning a protest,” the source added.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Peace Ibekwe Abdallah, when contacted, said she would brief the media on the matter at the appropriate time.