The Nigeria Police Force has confirmed the arrest and detention of a Catholic Priest identified as Rev Father Aniebonem, and five other people for allegedly being members of a pro-Biafra group, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in Anambra State.
The arrest of the priest and others was sequel to the raid of the office of pro-Biafra group office along Oyeagu Ifitedunu road on Monday, September 25.
An octogenarian who was at the office was arrested and pictures of the late Biafra warlord, Ikem a Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu were confiscated and destroyed during the raid by the vicious police officers.
Not stopping there on Wednesday, the anti-kidnapping unit of the Nigeria police at Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area (LGA), Anambra attacked the Catholic priest when he visited State Criminal Investigation Department, Awkuzu, to see his in-law who was detained.
Confirming the arrest of the priest and others, the Command’s spokesperson, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said “Our operatives working on reliable information, raided their office along Oyeagu Ifitedunu road on Monday, September 25.”
According to him, some incriminating items and unpatriotic materials showing the movement’s disloyalty to the Federal government were found there and that was the reason the Commissioner of Police ordered the operatives to go after their members.
“The case is still under investigation as I talk to you,” he said, but refused to disclose why the suspects had not been charged to court since Monday.
Meanwhile, MASSOB in a statement issued on Friday by Anambra State Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha, condemned the attack on the peaceful and non-violent pro-Biafra group.
According to the statement Fr Aniebonem and five others were arrested on Wednesday, September 27, by the anti-kidnapping unit of the Nigeria police at Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area (LGA), Anambra.
It noted that three members of the group were arrested on Monday, when the police raided their office along Awkuzu/Otuocha road, Ifitedunu, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state.
The statement noted that Aniebonem, who works at St Patrick’s Cathedral Church, Awka, hails from Ifitedunu town, and got involved when he visited the State Criminal Investigation Department, Awkuzu, to secure the release of his in-law.
The priest had gone for Chief Sylvester Dinyelu, his 87-year-old in-law who was arrested by the police to seek the reason behind his arrest and possibly secure his release considering his age.
He said instead of briefing the priest on reasons for Dinyelu’s arrest, the police arrested the Reverend Father on the suspicion that he too might be a member of the movement.
Udebunu Anachuna, the driver of the priest who drove him to the station, was equally arrested alongside Christian Ifeji, Johnson Anagor, and Kanayo Madu on the same allegation.
Mocha said that a similar development occurred in Onitsha when one Mathew Ani was also arrested on Tuesday, September 26, on an allegation of belonging to the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB).
He said that the random arrests by police need to be checked as their actions are against the principles of the right of free association and movement of the citizens as contained in the Nigerian constitutions as amended.
“We have just engaged the services of our lawyer to ensure the early release of the men, including the 87-year-old man,” he said.