Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pro-Biafra protests not in the interest of south-east people - Governor Okorocha

The IMO State Governor and Chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum, Chief Rochas Okorocha, is currently arranging a crucial meeting with other governors in the South-East, over the growing agitation by protagonists of Biafra. Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, shut down markets in Aba, Abia State, in continuation of its three-day one million protest march calling for the release of their detained leader and Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. Similarly, Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, said it had mobilized over 2,000-members for a peaceful protest in Ebonyi State.
Governor Okorocha in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, said the leadership of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, and other stakeholders in the geo-political zone, were also being invited to talk and agree on how to check the activities of pro-Biafra groups in the area. “The meeting is expected to take place this weekend in Owerri, the Imo State capital. Already the Governor has begun to make all the necessary contacts to ensure that all those expected to be at the meeting, would be in attendance”, Onwuemeodo said. It will be recalled that Okorocha had earlier, while taking exception to the pro-Biafra violent protests in some of the South-East states and few other neighbouring states, disassociated the governors and leaders in the South-East states from the MASSOB protest, describing the whole exercise as “embarrassing, disturbing, counter-productive and to a large extent, distracting”. According to Governor Okorocha, the pro-Biafra protests could not be in the interest of the south-east people but were only sending wrong signals to the rest of Nigerians. “It has become increasingly necessary for the governors in the zone, Ohaneze leaders and other stakeholders in the area to meet, to call a spade, a spade”, Okorocha said. The Governor also said that “at the end of the Owerri meeting, the governors and other leaders will take a common position and will also invite the leaders of the pro-Biafra groups for a meeting, to let them know the socio-economic and political implications of their activities, including their demand for sovereignty in a united Nigeria”. Chief Okorocha insisted that the governors and leaders in the zone could no longer sit and watch the whole situation degenerate, even as he also noted that the Igbos as a people cannot afford to have its own kind of Boko Haram. He wondered why the pro-Biafra apologists kept quiet all these years only to resume their protests and activities this time and few months after the new administration in the country came on board. Markets shut in Abia as over 30,000 sympathisers protest In Aba, Abia State, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, shut down markets in continuation of its three-day protest march, calling for the release of their detained leader and Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. The protesters in several groups, with each numbering no fewer than 5,000, marched through Azikiwe, Cemetery, Asa, Faulks, Aba-Owerri and Osisioma Ngwa from where they forcefully closed all the markets in the city. According to them, the one million protest march was an attempt by the group to draw the attention of the international community to alleged injustice being visited on their leader who had been detained for over two weeks now. According to them, they chose not to be violent because the “price has already been paid by our forefathers and the price we are going to pay for the sake of Biafra is exactly what our director (Kanu) is paying for at the moment.” However, security agents including soldiers and policemen were on hand, to ensure that hoodlums did not hijack the protest to loot property. Newsplanetb observed that as early as 8am, some of the protesters had marched around the popular Azikiwe road and warned shop owners to lock up or face the wrath of the group, while another group visited the Ekeoha Shopping Centre to ensure that the order was not flouted. Shop owners who had already opened for business were seen hurriedly closing their shops. The two groups later converged at the ever busy Azikiwe/ Asa road junction causing a heavy gridlock as they marched through Faulks to the Ariaria International Market where they had Saturday warned traders not to open for business yesterday.

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