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Court grants Biafra leader bail
- Masterweb News Desk
( Friday, May 16, 2008 )
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Abuja Court of Appeal on Thursday granted bail to Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State for Biafra( MASSOB ), a secessionist movement campaigning to recreate the breakaway defunct Republic of Biafra. Ten other MASSOB members were also granted bail along with Chief Uwazuruike. All pleaded not guilty to treason charges on Wednesday, when they were re-arraigned on treason charges.
The eastern part of Nigeria( Eastern Region ) seceded on May 30, 1967 as Republic of Biafra, a move which led to a 30-month civil war. The war which can be described as the most cruel war in Africa, claimed over one million lives mainly due to disease and starvation on the Biafran side. The war ended on January 15, 1970 with the negotiated surrender of Biafra.
MASSOB accuses Nigeria of marginalizing and mistreating Igbos since the end of the war. This included the exclusion of Igbos from important and sensitive national positions. These out-of-bounds positions against the Igbos included president of the country, head of secret service among others, according to MASSOB. They also cite abandonment and lack of federal presence in the region in terms of development and basic infrastructure. The Igbos are one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and the largest in the east. MASSOB, its membership running in millions boycotted the national census last year claiming they were not Nigerians.
Chief Uwazuruike and his co-defendants were arrested October 25, 2005 in Okwe Village( MASSOB headquarters ) in Okigwe, Imo State. The arrests followed a crackdown on ethnic militant and secessionist leaders by former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. All the arrested ethnic militia leaders charged alongside Uwazuruike with treason were all granted bail in court without further court dates nor action against them. Uwazuruike was only uptill Thursday granted temporary bail to enable him bury his mother who died while he was locked up without trial. Nigerians across ethnicities see the bail granted Uwazurike and his lieutenants as justice well rendered.
Names of other MASSOB members granted bail made available to reporters at the time of this report were, Uchenna Madu(27 years - male), Benedict Alakwen(45 years - male), Vincent Ekwuazi(47 years - male), Arinze Igbani(29 years - male), Chibuike Nwosu(23 years - male), Augustine Ihuoma(40 years - male), Chimankpa Okorocha(19 years - male), Ambrose Anyanso(46 years - male) and Kelechi Ubabuike(27 years - male). All attempts by Masterweb News Desk to obtain the tenth missing name were futile.
Image Above: Chief Ralph Uwazuruike in court.
Chief Ralph Uwazuruike (middle) being led into Federal High Court, Abuja., Tuesday, November 9, 2005 to face treason charges.
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