Onitsha, a city located in Anambra State, witnessed violence on Wednesday during Biafran nationalist demonstrations organized by the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) groups.
It will be recalled that earlier today SaharaReporters published that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, warned against violence and destruction during the demonstrations throughout the Onitsha area.
The terse nature of Police Chief Arase’s warning indicated a tense relationship between the protesters and the police. According to Vanguard, tensions between the police and protesters boiled over at about 1:30 am on Wednesday morning as demonstrators clashed with security services in the area including the police, Joint Military Forces, and Civilian Defense forces.
The same Vanguard report stated that a Joint Task Force of military and police officers opened fire on IPOB protesters when the latter refused to remove themselves from the Niger Bridge Head. The clash reportedly left 9 civilians dead, and 8 injured.
Speaking to SaharaReporters Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), Alphonsus Okechuukwu, confirmed that IPOB and MASSOB protesters were responsible for the burning of the Onitsha Central Mosque. He also accused the protesters of burning at least six Dangote trucks.
When asked who he blamed for the violence in Onitsha, Mr. Okechukwu placed the blame squarely at the feet of the protesters.
“MASSOB and IPOB are responsible for deaths and violence. They are holding people's emotions hostage and setting fires,” he informed SaharaReporters.
Mr. Okechukwu confirmed to our correspondent that two police sergeants were killed during the protests. He also noted that, “there is a high degree violence [in Onitsha]” and that the police were, “treading lightly with them [protesters].”