Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and a faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as well as other pro-Brafra groups, at last penetrated Owerri, the Imo State capital, crippling economic activities and vehicular movements as they protested the continued detention of the Radio Biafra Director, Nnamdi Kanu.
It would be recalled that the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, at the wake of the protests, absolved the Southeast Governors and Igbo leaders of any complicity, adding that the separatists does not enjoy the support of majority of the Igbo. Also the Governor had stepped up security in the state to prevent the pro-Biafra groups from holding the protest in the state.
However, as early as 6am Friday, IPOB members who reportedly trekked from Aba in neighbouring Abia state and Port Harcourt, apparently to beat security checks, were converged at strategic positions in the state capital from where they linked up with their members on ground to begin the protest.
Although there was heavy security presence, including battle ready soldiers and heavily armed mobile Policemen who drove behind the protesters in their vehicles, there was obvious anxiety among the residents as shop owners hurriedly locked up their shops, while motorists parked out of the road to make way for the long procession.
Meanwhile the protesters numbering over 10 thousand, marched through major streets in the state capital, displaying the Biafra flag and placards with various inscriptions such as, ‘FG free Nnamdi Kanu now’, ‘Kanu is Biafra and we are Kanu’, ‘we need Biafra now’ , among others and chanting war songs.
One of the protesters, Emmanuel Onyema, said that the protests will spread to other parts of the country and sustained untill Kanu is unconditionally released by the Federal Government.
The factional MASSOB Director of Information, Uchenna Madu, said that they were in solidarity with IPOB because Kanu is a true BIafran.
He said that “the protest will continue as a platform to send the message across that we need Biafra, we are not secured in Nigeria, and we are feeling that our future is secured not in Nigeria. Our demonstrations shall remain non violent, today we are in Owerri and by the time we finish in the Southeast and Kanu is not released we will match to Abuja so that we can all be detained because we are ready to die for what beljeve in.”
According to him, “we are tired of being slaves in Nigeria, what is happening now shows that Biafra is ready to go so let them give us Biafra and release our leader immediately.”
At the Government House, there was equally heavy security presence apparently to forestall any attempt to invade the Government House.