51 arrested as Jewish worshipers stage peaceful march in Umuahia
*We found Biafra insignia on them – Police
* We ‘ve alerted Israel, world leaders -IPOB * Abia chief Imam reacts
By Steve Oko
No fewer than 51 Jewish worshipers were Tuesday, arrested by the police in Umuahia, Abia State capital during a peaceful march by the group.
The Jewish adherents who filed out in thier hundreds as early as 10:00 am took off from the Damgrate Hotels axis of the metropolis and marched through the Library Avenue ( Bank Road).
They chanted pro -Biafra songs and waved Biafra and Israeli flags to the admiration of residents some of who were observed hailing them.
The mammoth crowd of adherents comprising men, women and children, all decked in Jewish attires also chanted songs in Hebrew language.
They said they were tired of belonging to Nigeria and wanted their own sovereign country.
But the peaceful protest turned awry when the procession was intercepted at the Okpara Square area opposite the Event Center, as the procession made its way towards the popular Isi -Gate axis.
Heavily armed police men in over four pick -up vans intercepted the worshipers and ordered them to halt the movement.
The security men immediately started firing canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Scores of the Jewish adherents were arrested and whisked away by the police while others scampered for safety.
Army armoured tank and solders in pick up vans were also observed patrolling the area but they watched from a distance as police arrested the hapless Jewish worshipers.
Both the Jewish adherents and members of the public around the area including journalists covering the event had a full dose of tear gas as police fired several canisters to disperse the crowd.
Traders around the vicinity and nearby Isi -Gate abandoned their wares as they fled for dear life in the ensuing meliu.
There was also a traffic snarl around the area following the disruption of the procession by security operatives.
Later in an interview with newsmen one of the worshipers, Israel Ibe, said they were tired of belonging to Nigeria, hence the peaceful march.
His words : “We are the Jews in Biafra land. We are protesting because we need Jewish nation in Biafra land.
” You can’t keep goat and yam together. We can’t join them and vote because their religion and ours are not the same.
“We are tired of staying together with killers. We want to stand on our own. “
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the arrest of 51 worshipers.
According to him, those arrested include 41 males and 10 females.
He said they were arrested because they were found with Biafran and IPOB (Indigenous Peoples of Biafra) insignia.
“What concerns Jewish worshipers with call for Biafra restoration and IPOB? He queried.
The PPRO said that IPOB remained outlawed, hence anybody found identifying with the group should be treated as a terrorist.
He therefore, warned parents not to allow their children and wards to steer clear from any act that could affect their interest or breach public peace.
In a swift reaction, IPOB has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested worshipers .
A statement by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said Israel had already been put on notice about the development.
He warned the Abia State Commissioner of Police to ensure no harm befalls the arrested Jewish adherents , and that the rights of people for religious association are respected.
The statement read in part : ” we have notified Israeli government and other world leaders over the incessant arrest of Jewish church members in Biafraland and warning police commissioner in Abia state to release them please before it gets out of hands.
“IPOB condemns the incessant arrest and continued clampdown on Jewish worshipers who were doing peaceful rally and sensitization for Biafra referendum on Tuesday 11th December, 2018 in Umuahia Abia state Biafraland.
“IPOB leadership will not fail to notify Jewish Community all over the world, particularly Jewish worshipers in Israel and other parts of the world over the recent arrest of Jewish church members who were peacefully protesting for Biafra freedom in Umuahia today.
“We are warning Abia state police commissioner to release them, the 54 innocent citizens of Biafra who were doing peaceful evangelism in Umuahia for Biafra freedom.
“We blame Okezie Ikpeazu and Abia police commissioner the damage this action may cause in Abia state if they fail to release these innocent Jewish worshipers exercising their rights. Okezie Ikpeazu and police commissioner must release those arrested without further delay or they will live to regret what will come upon them soon.
“IPOB is firmly rooted with peaceful way to restore Biafra and cannot change its resolve to become violent organization because of high handedness the Nigeria Government and her security agencies especially police and army officers are using against IPOB members since inception of this peaceful means adopted by our supreme leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Imam of Abia State, Sheikh Ali Ukaiwo has condemned the procession by the Jewish adherents, describing it as uncalled for.
The Chief Imam who said he came to shop around the area at the time the worshipers were being arrested said targeting “this season for such protest is counter productive “.
Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.
Abia Justice Forum holds prayers to enthrone democracy, promote good governance in state
Appeal court halts move to stop Otti’s inauguration
Clear our severance package, sitting allowance, others before leaving office, ex-councillors beg Ikpeazu