The Police averted a bloody scene in commercial city Onitsha yesterday as separatist group Biafran Independent Movement (BIM), led by Chief Raph Uwazuruike, marched through the streets.
No fewer than 14 people were arrested during and after the protest, according to police spokesperson Nkeiruka Nwode.
The protesters marched through Okpoko and to other streets, with placards marking the 17th anniversary of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Uwazuruike was leader of MASSOB until a crisis broke out following which he established BIM.
Anambra Central Zonal Leader of BIM, Chief Vincent Iloh, said the government should allow the Biafran agitators have their own independent state “since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 expired in 2014.”
He said: “Let the whole world know that we are resolute in our stand for a Biafra Republic. It is not compulsory that we shall remain one indivisible nation so they should allow us to go to our Promised Land,” he said.
Iloh praised Uwazurike’s “resilience,” saying he started the renewed struggle for Biafra on September 13, 1999. He said those working to destabilise the struggle would not succeed.
He urged the Igbo nation to support MASSOB- BIM and called on the international community to help in actualising the Biafra struggle.
The Anambra State Joint Security Task Force cordoned off parts of the Onitsha –Owerri road.
The MASSOB-BIM Director of Information, Anambra North zone, Charles Igbokwe, said some of their members marching towards Amazo Oil along the Onitsha –Owerri road were arrested.
The police spokesperson said nobody was shot or killed, adding that 14 persons were arrested.
The MASSOB leaders also held 17th activities of MASSOB in Calabar, Port Harcourt and addressed a news conference in Lagos.
President Muhammadu Buhari insisted yesterday that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.
He urged those nursing the ambition of creating Biafra State in the Southeast to forget it.
He vowed to continue working for Nigeria’s unity and urged youths to make this country great again through pursuit of knowledge, patriotism and commitment to values that promote national unity.
Speaking to over 100 Youth Corps members serving in Daura local government who visited him, he said: “I asked for those from the other extreme of Nigeria because I very much appreciate the NYSC scheme and whenever I see (former Head of State) Gen. (Yakubu) Gowon, I always thank him for that.”
Directing his attention specifically to corps members from the Southeast, the President said: “Tell your colleagues who want Biafra to forget about it.
“As a military commander, I walked from Degem, a border town between the North and the east, to the border between Cameroon and Nigeria.
“I walked on my foot for most of the 30 months that we fought the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, in which at least two million Nigerians were killed.
“We were made by our leaders to go and fight Biafra not because of money or oil, because oil was not a critical factor then, but because of one Nigeria.
“So if leaderships at various levels failed, it was not the fault of the rest of Nigerians who have no quarrel with one another.
“So, please tell your colleagues that we must be together to build this country. It is big enough for us and potentially big enough in terms of resources.
‘’Those who work hard will earn a respectable living. I have seen this country, I fought for this country and I will continue to work for the unity of this country.’’
Buhari urged the youth to remain focused in life, pursue their dreams and reject those fanning embers of discord and disintegration of Nigeria.
He praised the vision of Gen. Gowon for setting up the NYSC scheme in 1973.
The President said the scheme had creditably promoted national unity and cohesion by exposing young people to the uniqueness and cultural diversity of the country.
Daura Local Government Corps Liaison Officer Egbewunmi Adebolu , thanked the President for the honour of receiving them and making their stay in Daura memorable.
He said youths strongly believed in the programme of the President to reduce unemployment and create jobs for more Nigerians.
He thanked the President for his personal gifts of cows, bags of rice and cash to corps members in the community for Sallah celebration.