Operatives of the Rivers State Police Command today arrested no fewer than 10 persons suspected to be members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) believed to be promoting the course of actualization of the Biafra Republic.
It was gathered that they were arrested this afternoon in Port Harcourt while they were celebrating the 18th anniversary of the group existence.
Supporters of the two groups had embarked on a rally in Port Harcourt, marching through Mile One Market and some streets in the Rivers State capital before some of them were arrested at Garrison Junction along Aba-Port Harcourt expressway.
Some of the members of the groups, who wore military camouflage, were not left out during the raid that lasted for about 10 minutes, even as policemen released teargas into the air, ostensibly to disperse the crowd.
Dissatisfied with the development, the leader of the group, Solomon Chukwu, said MASSOB and BIM members, who were arrested, were taken to Olu Obasanjo Police Station.
He pointed out that MASSOB and BIM were non-violent registered groups and wondered why they should be treated in such a manner.
“I am not happy about the development. I met the security people and told them what we are doing that we are not violent, but they asked us to close and go. They did not give us the chance to go.
“They arrested our people on uniform. Our coming out is not that we took them unawares. They are aware. We are meant to go to Eleme Junction, but because of their action, we stopped here at Garrison. We will follow up with the people they have arrested to secure their release.
“I am calling on the FG that MASSOB is none violent and we are a registered organisation. We are shocked that they decided to treat us like this,” Chukwu said.
Another member of the group, who simply identified himself as Tony, told our correspondent on phone that the rally was aimed at increasing the consciousness of the people and government on the need for the creation of Biafra.
“The rally this morning is to mark our 18 years of existence after it was formed in the year 2000 by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. The call for the reawakening of the call for the creation of Biafra State is part of the reason for this rally,” Tony added.
Reacting to the arrest, the State Police Spokesperson, Nnamdi Omoni, a Superintendent of Police (SP) told our correspondent on phone that they are investigating the report adding that he will confirm the full detail from the Divisional Police Officer of the affected areas where the protest took place.