Enugu — The Enugu State Police Command yesterday arrested the leader of the Biafra Zionist Movement, Benjamin Onwuka and 500 members for declaring the independence of Biafra.
They were arrested near the Central Police Station along the Coal Camp - Old Park road during a peaceful procession that preceded what they called formal re-declaration of the independence of the republic of Biafra.
The group is a faction of the Ralph Uwazuruike-led Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB. The two pro-Biafra oragnisations have been having a strained relationship since the formation of the new group.
The leader of the group, Onwuka, who proclaimed himself the president of Biafran republic, said the ministers that would pilot the affairs of his government would be announced in due course.
During a rally held at a football field in Mbanugo area of Coal Camp, Enugu, members of the group wore vests bearing Biafra inscription and carried different flags including those of the defunct Biafra republic, United States and Israel as they sang pro-Biafra songs.
After the rally that lasted for about an hour, Onwuka and his members, mostly elderly men in their 60's, embarked on a peaceful procession to Ogbete Main Market area acknowledging cheers from residents and motorists along the road.
Onwuka said the life and property of the Biafran people were no longer safe and guaranteed in Nigeria, hence their resolve to re-declare their independence with effect from November 5, 2012.
"In order to guarantee the Biafran people's right to freely worship their God without being bombed or killed according to the United Nations Convention on the Freedom of Association, today, the re-birth of the republic of Biafra is finally actualized at the long last. I thank all Biafrans for the sacrifices that they have made since this struggle began in 1967. We are today a free nation endowed with all God-given right to re-claim our lost sovereignty stolen from us in 1914," he said.
Members of the group were said to have been stopped by policemen led by the Divisional Police Officer, Ikechukwu Mba. One of them said their leader and 385 of them were conveyed to the police command; while 115 others were arrested and were being held at the State CID.
The spokesman of the police command, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrest, listed the items recovered as including 61 Biafran flags and those of other countries, 13 berets, and three bands.