Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: 500 Secessionists Arrested in South-East

Operatives of the Enugu State police command yesterday arrested over 500 members of the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM) for allegedly re-declaring the Republic of Biafra.

The arrested BZM members, who wore vests bearing Biafra inscription and carried different flags including those of the defunct Biafra Republic, United States and Israel, were arrested around the Akwata axis of Agbani Road at about 6.45am as they were singing pro-Biafra songs.

They had, after the declaration ceremony that lasted about an hour, embarked on a peaceful procession from Mbanugo heading towards Ogbete Main Market area, acknowledging cheers from residents and motorists along the road.

Leader of BZM Barrister Benjamin Onwuka had after his declaration speech stated that he was now the president of Biafran republic, saying that the ministers that would pilot the affairs of his government would be announced in due course.

He averred that the life and property of the Biafran people were no longer safe and guaranteed in the entity called Nigeria, hence their resolve to re-declare their independence with effect from November 5, 2012.

The police public relations officer of the Enugu police command, Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the arrest, but said over 100 members of the group were apprehended.

We'll win war against terrorism, Jonathan restates

President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed optimism that terrorism in Nigeria would be eradicated.

Jonathan said this while declaring open the First Regional Conference on Terrorism with the theme "Containing Terrorism in West African Sub-Region" in Abuja yesterday.

The president, represented by vice president Namadi Samabo, said the federal government was working tirelessly at providing adequate security for all residents of the country.

According to him, there is a need for a synergy between Nigeria and foreign stakeholders in the fight against terrorism.

"The scourge of terrorism will be eradicated as we remain committed to providing adequate security to the citizens and foreign nationals resident in the country.

"There is a need to strengthen multi-national collaboration with countries in the sub-region in the fight against terrorism.

"The time could not have been more appropriate given the current security challenges in the country."

Jonathan noted that terrorism was alien to Nigeria as the country had always been peaceful, adding that peace must be restored in the country.

He said the Boko Haram sect had transformed from what it used to be at inception in 2009 to a level of carrying out large-scale coordinated attacks.

According to him, the government is building the capacity of security agencies to handle the upsurge while it would also focus on ensuring the rule of law in its operations.

"I signed into law the Terrorism Prevention Act in 2011 and created the Office of the Coordinator, Counter-Terrorism Department in the Office of the National Security Adviser."

He urged the participants to evolve a regional counter-terrorism strategy to assist the West African sub-region to overcome its security challenges.

In his speech, retired Col. Mohammed Dasuki, the national security adviser, said terrorism had become a global phenomenon.

He said Nigeria was responding to the scourge through capacity building and partnership with counter-terrorism agencies across the globe.

"No country is immune to it and Nigeria has been battling the menace. There is a need for sub-regional, regional and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

Dasuki said the objective of the conference was to provide an understanding of what constitutes terrorism, make recommendations on how to tackle it and foster unity in the fight.

NAN reports that delegates from some 19 countries and the UN are participating in the three-day conference organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

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