The Nigerian Military has explained why it attacked members of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the aborted Biafran Republic on Monday at Nkpor-Agu in Anambra State.
A statement signed by Colonel HA Gambo, Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu, the Military said MASSOB and IPOB attacked the military and threatened the peace enjoyed members of the public. It described the action of the pro-Biafran militants as an orchestrated attempt to mar the first anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari in office.
"Due to the widespread panic, tension and apprehension generated from the activities of the MASSOB and IPOB members, security agencies, including the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, Department of State Service and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency were compelled to intervene in consonance with constitutional provisions of aid to civil authority where and when such occasion demands," said the statement.
It added that the major objective of the security agencies was to ensure peace, security and stability.
However, added the statement, MASSOB and IPOB members who had earlier gathered at a school on Ataa Road, near Saint Edmunds’ Catholic Parish, Maryland, Nkpor-Agu in Anambra State, attacked security agencies.
The attack, said the statement, involved the use of a variety of firearms, crude weapons, volatile cocktails such as acid and dynamites.
On account of this, the Military explained, troops of 82 Division Nigerian Army, which led the security agencies in the operation, were left without any other option than to resort to self defence, protect of the strategic Niger Bridge and stop pro-Biafran elements reinforcing from the far side of the strategic Niger Bridge at Onitsha.
" All these efforts were in order to de-escalate the palpable tension as well as ward off the apparent threats to lives and property in the general area," the Military further explained.
The clash, claimed the Military, resulted in injuries to the troops, with those injured currently receiving treatment at a military medical facility. On the Biafran side, the Military said five members of MASSOB/IPOB were killed, eight wounded, while nine were arrested and will be prosecuted.
The Military also gave assurances that it will continue to protect members of the public against violence and warned those who want to perpetrate violent acts against doing so.