Ihuoma Chiedozie and Ogbonnaya Ikokwu
Some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, who took to the streets and markets in Enugu to call on residents to embark on a sit-at-home protest, have been arrested by the police.
One of our correspondents learnt that the IPOB members were apprehended at the popular Ogbete Main Market in Enugu.
Twelve members of the pro-Biafran group whose names were not disclosed by the police were arrested during the incident.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Enugu State Police Command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the development, said the secessionists would be prosecuted.
It was gathered that the IPOB members invaded the market with public address systems and pamphlets, urging traders to close their shops and stay at home on Friday, September 23, to press home their demand for the release of the group’s leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Amaraizu said 21 mobile telephone handsets were recovered from the arrested IPOB members, as well as Biafran flags and emblems.
Pamphlets, which the suspects distributed in the market, were also confiscated by the police.
Some of the pamphlets read, ‘IPOB, for the betterment of your children and yourself’, ‘Please stay at home on 23/9/16’, ‘There will be no work, no school, no business, no market’ and ‘Free Nnamdi Kanu, free Biafra.’
The sit-at-home protest, which IPOB is canvassing in all parts of the South-East and South-South, is part of the group’s plan to stage rallies ‘in major cities of the world’ on September 23.
IPOB had, in a statement released by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Monday, disclosed plans to “further compound Nigeria’s economic misery” by stopping all economic activities in the South-East and the South-South through a sit-at-home protest in a bid to demand Kanu’s freedom from what it described as an “illegal detention.”
IPOB said letters and petitions demanding Kanu’s release would be submitted to governments of various countries where the planned rallies would hold on September 23.
The secessionist group pleaded with the international community to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to free Kanu, failing which “things would fall apart” in the country.
However, the police said it had beefed up security in Enugu to stop IPOB from disrupting commercial activities in line with the planned sit-at-home protest.
According to Amaraizu, the arrested IPOB members threatened to disrupt commercial activities if the people failed to heed the sit-at-home plea.
The police spokesman said security agencies were ready to forestall possible breakdown of law and order on the day of the planned protest.