Thirty three suspected members of the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are currently facing prosecution by the police for allegedly causing the death of one Police Inspector and injuring two other police officers.
The IPOB members were said to be going around protesting and sensitizing the people in Nnewi market, telling them not to participate in next year’s general elections unless the Federal Government acceded to their demand of a referendum for the creation of Biafra.
But what the police claimed was that they were privy to plans by hundreds of IPOB members with “dangerous weapons” to cause disturbance of public peace and public security in Nnewi and environs.
According to the Police Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, “On 23rd November, 2018, there was intelligence report that members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, an unlawful terrorist organization, were sighted in their hundreds with dangerous weapons near Teaching Hospital, Owerri Road, Nnewi, about to cause disturbance of public peace and public safety in the Nnewi and environs.
“Consequently, police patrol teams led by Area Commander 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.
“The police team, while proceeding to the scene, came under ambush from the IPOB members, in the process, a Police Inspector was killed, two other police officers were seriously injured, and one police patrol van set ablaze, and the proscribed IPOB members snatched and carted away two AK47 rifles, and one Beretta pistol with ammunition”.
As a result, what the police did was to begin indiscriminate arrest of everybody in sight, both the young and the old, accusing them of terrorism, and vowing to prosecute them in court.
Unfortunately, most of those arrested claimed not not to belong to IPOB, much more attacking, killing or injuring any police officer. They said they were traders in Nnewi market who had finished their business for the day and were returning home, when they were arrested by the police.
Even though we are highly against IPOB in their call for the boycott of 2019 elections, we are however amazed at the speed with which the security agencies always pounce on members of IPOB each time they have an outing, and would subsequently proceed to make all sorts of false accusations against them.
I do not think there is any law in the country banning public gathering or demonstration, but each time the IPOB members gather, even though they would be unarmed, the security agencies will see them as threat to public peace and security, begin to harass and to intimidate them. Many of them would be killed in the process. This is giving dog a bad name in order to hang it.
It is surprising that while the IPOB members who in honesty, do not bear arms, are declared “a terrorist” group and proscribed, the Fulani Herdsmen who all of us know, go about with sophisticated weapons like AK47 rifles, Beretta pistols, etc., and who maim and kill people and burn down their houses and farmlands, are treated with kid gloves.
For instance, upon all the atrocities known to have been committed by the Fulani Herdsmen all over the country, no single one of them is being prosecuted in court, while hundreds of people, who may not even be members of IPOB, are currently languishing in various prisons, for the sins they did not commit.
This is not to talk of several others who were murdered while being detained and who were secretly buried, like some corpses seen floating on the Ezu River, some time in the past.
We hope punishing two people who committed the same offence differently, or not punishing the other one at all. That is injustice.