- The Indigenous People of Biafra staged a protest in Aba, Abia state, over the prolonged detention of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu
- Ten people were killed, while 20 were injured as a result of a clash between the protesters and security agencies
- Civil society organizations in Abia state under the auspices of the Abia Human Rights Agenda condemned “the killing of defenceless protesters”
- On the same day, Enugu police arrested 25 members of IPOB who gathered at the Naira Triangle in preparation for a protest march
A protest staged by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) over the prolonged detention of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, turned bloody on Tuesday, February 9, in Aba, Abia state.
The Nation reports that 10 people were killed and another 20 were injured as a result of the clash between the protesters and security agencies.
According to unconfirmed reports, over 30 IPOB members are receiving treatment in various hospitals in Aba, while another 20 have been arrested by the police.
An IPOB official who pleaded for anonymity said that the protesters gathered at Ibo National High School for prayers.
“In the morning, we gathered at Ibo National High School for prayers and address by the Aba coordinator
“While the prayers were on, we noticed police patrol vans and because we locked the gate, they could not enter. They attempted to scale the fence, but could not. Shortly after, soldiers came in Hilux vans and scaled the fence.
“When they entered, they asked for our coordinator but we resisted them. The next thing we heard was gunshot. I can’t say how many died because there was a stampede as people tried to escape,” he said.
He revealed that the security agents arrested the group’s coordinator in Aba identified as Ikechukwu and some of his assistants.
He further stressed that no amount of killings or intimidation would discourage the IPOB from pursuing its cause. He added that the protest would continue on Friday, February 12.
When contacted, Ezekiel Onyeke, the spokesman of the Abia state police command, said that he was yet to be briefed on the incident.
Meanwhile, a source at the 144 Battalion at Ukwa West denied the allegation that soldiers shot members of the IPOB. He revealed the arrested protesters had been handed over to the police for further investigation.
Vanguard reports that on the same day Enugu police arrested 25 members of IPOB, who had gathered at the Naira Triangle in preparation for a protest march tagged “Mother of All Protest Marches”.
The march was nipped in the bud by security agents who stormed the venue where the protesters were trooping in numbers.
As a result of the physical show of strength between IPOB and security agents, many protesters sustained injuries. Many took to their heels when the police released shots of tear gas into the crowd.
Emma Powerful, the media and publicity officer of IPOB, blasted the security agents for their attitude towards protesters. She stressed that IPOB is not a violent group and its members were gathering for a peaceful march.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations in Abia state under the auspices of the Abia Human Rights Agenda condemned “the killing of defenceless protesters”.
The group called on the chief of army staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, and the inspector general of police, Solomon Arase, to launch investigations into the events and prosecute those found culpable.
Speaking with journalists in Aba, the group lamented that over 15 people lost their lives in pro-Biafra protests in the city and described the situation as unacceptable.
“Over 10 people lost their lives during the protest against the detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. Several others sustained various degrees of injuries as security agents clashed with protesters. Security agents must restrict themselves to the rules of their engagements in crisis situation,” the group said.
In November 2015, a protest staged by pro-Biafra activists also became violent in the city of Aba. A riot broke out following a protest by some pro-Biafra Zionists.