…they are not our members – IPOB
…they are our members – Nnewi Traders
By O’star Eze
The Nigeria Police Force has paraded 33 men between the ages of 17 and 65 who were arrested in connection with the recent civil unrest in Nnewi which led to the death of one police inspector, injury of several others and destruction of police vehicles.
Addressing the press during the parade at Anambra State Police Command Headquarters, Awka, the Police Force Public Relations Officer, DCP (Acting) Jimoh Moshood said that the suspects were “members of the proscribed and unlawful indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) responsible for the killing of a police inspector, inflicting serious injury on a divisional police officer (DPO) and some other police personnel, and setting ablaze of a police patrol vehicle in Nnewi, Anambra State on 23rd November, 2018.”
He added that the “killing of a police inspector and setting ablaze of police vehicle constitute a crime under the terrorism prevention amendment act 2013.”
DCP Moshood disclosed that “all the thirty-three (33) suspects arrested will be arraigned in court on completion of investigation under terrorism prevention amendment act 2013 and other capital offences such as murder, attempted murder, rioting and malicious damage of government property and police vehicle including looting and stealing.”
Among the exhibits paraded alongside the suspects were eight motorcycles, five IPOB flags an d five IPOB caps.
Narrating what led to the arrest, the PPRO alleged that the police had gotten intelligence report that suspects and their colleagues who are still on the run were sighted in their hundred brandishing dangerous weapons near Teaching Hospital, Nnewi.
“Consequently, Police Patrol teams led by the Area Commander, Nnewi, ACP Nnanna Oji Ama mobilized to the scene to prevent them from causing breakdown of law and order and mayhem, and destruction of lives and property.”
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He said that when the police team got to the scene, they were ambushed by the IPOB members and in the process, two police officers were injured, one police patrol vehicle set ablaze and 2 AK 47 rifles, one beretta pistol with ammunition snatched from the police team
“The IPOB members subsequently attacked other innocent people on sight with machete and other dangerous weapons as they marched towards the Agboedo Market shouting “NO ELECTIONS WITHOUT REFERENDUM,” he stated.
Continuing, he said, “The Divisional Police Officer, Central Police Station (CPS), Nnewi, CSP Babalola Adewunyi, ASP Micheal Duru attached to Area Command, Nnewi and Inspector Akinbami Olaniyi attached to CPS Nnewi sustained serious injuries from the ambush by the proscribed/unlawful IPOB members.
“The injured Police personnel were rushed to the Hospital for medical attention where the Inspector later died, while the other Police personnel are currently under intensive care in the hospital.”
He disclosed that it took a prompt deployment of reinforcement from Anambra State police Headquarters comprising Anti-riot Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Police Anti-Bomb Squad/Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD), Special Anti-cult Unit Personnel and conventional Policemen to quell the situation and arrest the 33 suspects.
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He also said that the Inspector General of Police has directed the Anambra State Police Commissioner to carry out intense search operations for the recovery of the two AK 47 rifles, one Beretta pistol and arrest the fleeing IPOB suspects.
Jimoh Moshood then reminded members of the public that the IPOB have been proscribed and that all their activities are therefore considered unlawful and terrorist
He advised them to go about their lawful businesses without fear or apprehension and report any suspicious assembly or disturbance to 07039194332, 08035078977.
Responding to questions from the press, the PPRO advised the Nnewi traders allegedly revolting against the arrests to make their complaint official as it would aid their investigation.
Denying the allegation, one of the suspects who gave his name as Evangelist Sunday Ilonze, said that he attending to customers at his shop at Motor Spare Parts line when he was ambushed by policemen and arrested.
“I told them that I do not know what happened and it happened in F-Line away from our line, but the policemen and army men came to our line shooting and they arrested me.”
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Another suspect, Vincent Okoroafor said he is the Vice Chairman of his line in Nnewi market, Prince of Peace Line, and the chairman of the choir in St Michael’s Catholic Church, Nnewi. He also said he just returned from the burial of a Reverend Father’s father at Nnewi and was packing some goods that were delivered to him with his one of his apprentices when the policemen and the army came and arrested him alongside his boy.
“They came and started beating us and pushed us into their vehicle. All of us here are innocent and anybody that is doing this to intimidate us will face the wrath of God.”
In the same vein, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB distanced itself from those arrested while denying the allegation from Anambra State Police Command that members of the group attacked policemen in Nnewi.
Speaking on the matter through a press release, Emma Powerful, IPOB’s media and publicity secretary insisted that IPOB remains a peaceful organization and never carried out such an act.
In his words, “It is on record since the formation and inception of IPOB ably led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, it has never indulged in any violence or crime of any sort no matter the level of provocation from Nigerian Government and her security agencies.
“IPOB is firmly rooted in the principles of peaceful agitation which the current Nigerian Government and her controllers are fighting seriously hard to change.”
Powerful described the allegation as “shocking and baffling,” adding that “people in government have decided to use some media houses to propagate false information and lies against IPOB activities.”
He condemned the police for allegedly coming to the conclusion without investigating the incident.
Narrating the IPOB’s version of what transpired at Nnewi, Emma Powerful said, “After hiding a policeman in the sewer, Anambra police authority had the temerity to lie by claiming IPOB killed a police officer when the said officer was hiding inside the gutter.
“It was the police that raced to the venue of a peaceful march uninvited and as usual started shooting and attacking IPOB family members who were on a peaceful rally in commemoration of our leader’s reappearance in Jerusalem.
“The pictures accompanying this brief statement shows clearly that the stage managed fake death of this police officer never occurred. IPOB did not snatch any police rifle of any sort because we are not violent organization.
He also enjoined the police to release whoever they arrested in relation to the incident as they have nothing to do with the incident.
Orient Daily gathered that Nnewi Traders had carried out a peaceful protest insisting that those arrested by the police were arrested wrongfully and had nothing to do with the incident.