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Army, Police Block Protesting MASSOB

- Masterweb News Desk

( Saturday, May 24, 2008 )

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"They marched triumphantly passing through Akabor and were about to enter Owerri when they encountered a combined force of the army and police blocking the road with armored cars."

Over a million members of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra( MASSOB ) from different parts of the country reported for a protest march in Okwe, the headquarters of the group seeking the recreation of the defunct Republic of Biafra. Okwe was overcrowded with faces strange to indigenes of this restive town in south eastern part of the country. The protest march billed for May 22 through 30, 2008 was one of the programs designed for the observation of what MASSOB describes as the 41st anniversary of the Independence of Biafra.

MASSOB in a press statement noted her protest march would be peaceful, non-violent and aimed at exposing the genocide by Nigeria against its members to the world. In addition, according to the group, it would demonstrate to the world the collective resolve of her members to political and economic freedom for the people of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the group gathered around what they call Freedom House, which to them is the equivalence of Nigeria's Aso Rock or America's White House. Freedom House doubles as both the official residence of the group's leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and State House. Biafran songs filled the air as the group commenced their march to Owerri unchallenged at 9.00 am. Uwazuruike led the march.

The group with Biafran regalia, including flags sang pro-Biafran songs as they marched unfettered towards Owerri. They marched triumphantly passing through Akabor and were about to enter Owerri when they encountered a combined force of the army and police blocking the road with armored cars. Uwazuruike instructed the group not to try to break the blockade and ordered their return to Okwe as the turnout and successful march to that point had sent the desired message to the world.

The group upon return to Okwe ended the protest march with a prayer after which members were allowed to return to their various places of residence. Many came from as far away as Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Benin, Kano, among other distant cities to Okwe.

Obasanjo's government banned MASSOB in 2002. The Nigerian police regards MASSOB illegitimate and outlawed, as a result many have been killed in 'clashes' with police and several arrested and locked up without trial. MASSOB claims over 2,000 of its members were killed by Nigerian security forces between May 2000 and April this year, and over 1000 languishing in various prisons in the country. Nigerian police disputes these figures.

MASSOB members demonstrate in Lagos in 2005  for the release of their detained leader, Chief Uwazuruike.
Photo Above: MASSOB members demonstrate in Lagos on Monday, November 7, 2005 for the release of their detained leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike.
Click For Photos of MASSOB Demonstration
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