The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Imo State Police Command, Andrew Enwerem, has said the Policemen in Owerri did not disperse protesting pro-Biafra women with tear gas.
He said they were arrested and would be prosecuted for “unlawful assembly”.
The women, who identified themselves as the Women Wing of IPOB, had insisted that no election would be conducted in states championing the cause of Biafra, and accused the Nigerian Government of hiding their erstwhile leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘No More Election in Igbo Land’; ‘We Want Biafra’; ‘Nigeria is a Fraud’, ‘We Need Biafra’; ‘No More Elections’; ‘We Need A Referendum’, among others.
The renewed agitation for referendum by the IPOB group is coming after 11 months after the Nigerian Army invaded the home of Nnamdi Kanu. Since the invasion, whereabouts of Kanu have remained unknown.
“Release Nnamdi Kanu now or face the wrath of God,” the women chanted as they marched in protest.
Earlier, when SaharaReporters called the Police PRO to confirm the story that tear gas canisters were fired at the women, Enwerem had suggested that the women were dispersed because “Biafra or any pro-Biafra group” is prohibited.
However, when told that it was the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group that was proscribed and not all “Biafra or any Pro-Biafra” group, as he stated, he dropped the call and did not pick further calls from our correspondent.
He, however, called back exactly 45 minutes later to say that the women were not dispersed, but about 30 of them were arrested for “unlawful assembly”.
He said: “We only arrested a group of women, numbering over 30, dressed in black and black, who assembled and were marching on the street in a manner likely to cause breach of peace, and we are charging them for unlawful assembly.”
When told that his earlier information was that the women were dispersed, because they were pro-Biafra agitators, he claimed he never said the women were dispersed.
He then added that using tear gas is not unlawful as it can be used to disperse riotous protesters.
He said: “Is tear gas unlawful? Tear gas is a Police implement to disperse rioters. If you say they used teargas, there is no problem, but I am telling you from Police perspective.”
The PRO seemed uncomfortable with the word “disperse” and would rather accept that the protesters merely ran away, when some of them were arrested.
He then asked the reporter which of his responses would be taken, “Are you taking the former one or this one I am telling you now confidently?”