The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) on Thursday has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of 27 pro-Biafra agitators being held by the Nigerian Army and Police.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful said in a statement that those carrying weapons on the streets of Southeast are not IPOB members, but herdsmen.
The IPOB reaction came on the heels of the handing over of over 27 pro-Biafra protesters to the Abia State Police Command by soldiers from 14 Brigade Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Ohafia.
The protesters, 23 male and four females – were arrested by soldiers in Aba by soldiers attached to the Ngwa High School Forward Operation Base (FOB) under the 144 Battalion Headquarters.
A military sources said the pro-Biafra protesters were members of the Biafran Army; an arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a claim that the IPOB spokesman, Comrade Powerful had debunked.
According to the source, members of the group were marching towards the Osisioma axis of the Aba-Owerri Expressway when they were accosted by soldiers on duty.
The source disclosed that a first aid box, charms and AK47 rifle belonging to a police sergeant who was killed in Aba last week were found in the possession of the group.
He said: “We got information from our men on the ground in the town that a group of IPOB members was demonstrating. On reaching our gate, we approached them with the aim of discouraging them from continuing with the protest.
“It was while we were talking to them that one of the soldiers sighted one of them bringing out a gun from a sack bag. The soldier fired at him and we secured the gun. One of them running away, had a pistol fell off from him which he later picked and continued running away.
“Army doesn’t prosecute. It is the duty of the police to do so. IPOB remains proscribed and its activity is illegal. So, the hand over is to enable police to continue with the investigation and possible prosecution.”
It was gathered that the pro-Biafra group members who were taken to Umuahia, the Abia State capital, in a coaster bus would be arraigned in court after police may have concluded their investigation.
Powerful, who denied that those paraded by soldiers were IPOB members, however, said it behooves the group to demand their immediate release.
He said: “While we maintain that those unfortunate victims seen on video being molested by Nigerian soldiers are not IPOB family members, we, nonetheless, demand for their unconditional release. If the reason for this blatantly stage-managed arrest and accompanying evocative and misleading press statement by the Nigerian army is to dent the global image of IPOB, then, they have failed spectacularly.
“Those that Nigerian Army claimed they arrested are not IPOB family members. The only people moving around in Biafraland with illegal weapons such as the AK47 Buratai’s henchmen alluded to in their laughable press release are their fellow herdsmen.”
IPOB said it was very pathetic that the Nigerian Army will abandon her constitutional role of defending the borders and protecting lives and properties and descend on those excercising their legitimate right to self-determination.