Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
There have been tension and outrage in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State as security operatives allegedly killed four protesters demanding the release of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Ikengaonline gathered that the incident which occurred Friday afternoon forced traders to close shops and hurry back to their homes.
It led to a pandemonium as motorists abandoned their vehicles on the road and fled while passengers and other road users scampered for safety.
Parents and guardians reportedly raced to schools to collect their children and wards to avoid being cut in the web.
Eye witness account had it that a large number of unarmed Biafra agitators decked in white clothes were on peaceful protest around Osusu Road Aba chanting pro-Biafra songs and calling for Kanu’s release.
Kanu has been in detention at the Abuja headquarters of the Department of State Services, DSS, since June 2021 when he was extraordinarily renditioned from Kenya.
Despite several court orders and judgments including UN Opinion directing his unconditional release, the Nigerian Authorities have refused to free him.
Trouble, according to the eye witness, started as the protesters who were proceeding in their peaceful protest were accosted by a team of heavily armed security operatives.
The source said that the security operatives initially were shooting sporadically into the air before eventually turning their nuzzles on the crowd of protesters.
Four Biafran protesters were reportedly gunned down by the security operatives.
The source which pleaded anonymity said: “Biafran agitators and IPOB members usually hold their peaceful protests around here.
“But against their usual black and black, they dressed in white clothes today except a few of them, giving the indication that they were for peace.
“I think that the protest leaked into the ears of the security agencies who arrived the venue and started shooting into the air.
“The kind of bullets that rained on top of zincs further caused tension. It was like a war zone.
“Everybody was running helter-skelter. Passengers inside buses jumped out to look for safety. Shop owners abandoned their shops to safety.
“Parents including myself, had to go to my children’s school that is near to pick and bring them back home.
“Some people like my neighbours who were already heading for Ariaria and Cemetery Markets turned back. It was about 3pm that one of them managed to go to market to shop for the weekend for her family. The trauma of the horrible sight is still on us,” the eyewitness said.
Efforts to get reaction from the police failed as the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Geoffrey Ogbonna, did not pick calls put across to him.
Meanwhile the video of the shooting of the unarmed protesters with one lifeless body on the road has gone viral on the social media provoking outrage.
Consequently, the apex Igbo socio-political youth group, Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, (COSEYL), has called for probe into the incident.
COSEYL which demanded arrest and prosecution of all security agents involved in the genocidal killing, also sought the intervention of the international community.
The group in a statement by its President General, Hon. Goodluck Ibem, described the killing as “wicked, barbaric, and lawlessness of the highest order.”
COSEYL wondered why security operatives deployed to South-East would be zealous in turning their triggers against innocent and unarmed Igbo youths most of the time.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read: “This unlawful killing of innocent Igbos who were wearing white and white as a sign of peace while protesting peacefully without any threat to lives and property shows that the police and security agencies deployed to the South-East are not on a mission to maintain peace but to kill innocent law abiding citizens of South-East.
“It is very sad and painful to note that some of the protesters who ran into the St. John Anglican Church on Osusu Road where pursued into the church of the Almighty God and killed while taking away their bodies to conceal evidence. Too sad!
“There is no where in the world where harmless protesters wearing white and white are killed by shooting at them directly with live bullets for being peaceful in their protest. The evil and wicked killing of innocent Igbos today is more than meets the eye. This means that they are seriously planning to exterminate the Igbo race who have done nothing wrong.
“It is only the court of law that has the constitutional powers to give order for the execution of any offender. So from where did the police derive their powers to execute those peaceful protesters.
“We call on the International community, the United Nations and all lovers of democracy to beam their searchlight on Nigeria that has made it an offence to be an Igbo by origin which is punishable by death. What happened today where innocent persons were butchered in broad daylight is a genocide of the highest order.
“We demand for the immediate arrest, sack and prosecution of those security agents who assassinated those innocent igbos today. The law must take its full course.”