5 IPOB members feared dead in Onitsha over release of Nnamdi Kanu

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No fewer than five members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were feared dead in Onitsha on Thursday while celebrating the release of their leader, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

An eye witness, Mr Festus Uyanna, told newsmen that the incident occurred as the jubilant group proceeded toward the Bridge Head and were halted by the military joint task force stationed in the hotspot.

Uyanna said the insistence of the IPOB members to converge at the Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu gate-way resulted to sporadic shooting during which the task force overpowered them.

“Trouble started when the jubilating IPOB members were asked to stop their march toward the Bridge Head, but the group bluntly refused.

“It was at this juncture that the soldiers started shooting sporadically to scare the crowd,” he said.

Also speaking, the Coordinator of Campaign for Democracy in the South East, a pressure group, Mr Uzor Uzor, said he rushed some injured IPOB members to the hospital.

“I have been here since I heard of the shooting. They were unarmed and wanted to converge at the Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu Gate-way when they were asked to turn back but they refused.

“As I am talking to you, five of them are lying dead in various hospitals and we have been following up about 15 others in critical conditions,” he said.

The development resulted to traffic gridlock on major roads in Onitsha while commercial activities were grinded to a halt.

Reacting to the development, an assistant commissioner of police in the state police command, Mr Philip Ezekiel, confirmed that there were deaths from the incident but that he could ascertain the number.

Ezekiel said that the IPOB members wanted to subdue the task force and take over the Bridge Head but were over-powered by the troops.

“Yes, Onitsha was in crisis in the early part of today, IPOB members attacked the solders at the Bridge Head but they were over-powered.

“There were deaths but I cannot confirm that now because they are not under me but everything is normal now,” he said.

Ezekiel said that normalcy had returned to the commercial city as both human and vehicular traffic were seamless.

He urged members of the public to continue their legitimate engagements as the police were on ground to ensure their security.