The Indigenous People of Biafra yesterday claimed that 17 of its members sustained gunshot injuries when they were allegedly attacked by a combined team of security agents on Sunday in Ebonyi State. But the police debunked their claim, saying they arrested only six members of the group in a primary school.
It was gathered that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Kpirikpiri Police Division, CSP John John, was injured in the encounter.
The clash occurred at Oguzoronweya Primary School in Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Daily Trust learnt that the IPOB members were having their convention in the school when the police got wind of it and stormed the area. This led to the arrest of an Abakaliki based legal practitioner, Mr. Orogwu Cyril Ndubuisi, and his fiancé, who were accused of being with the IPOB members at the primary school.
Five other IPOB members were arrested while many of the members fled. Police spokesman in the state, DSP Loveth Odah, said the IPOB members started attacking the security agents immediately they sighted them.
The spokesman said the IPOB member hit the DPO with heavy stones in the head. She added that the DPO would have died but was saved by the helmet he was wearing and bulletproof.
She said: “Why are they saying police stormed where they were holding meeting? Are they supposed to hold a meeting in Nigeria when they are declared proscribed? In law, there is what is called an unlawful assembly. “Members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) assembled unlawfully and the information got to us, that was on October 27, 2019 at Oguzoronweya Primary School in Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State by 2.50p.m. “On receiving the information, men of Operation Puff Adder of our command, in collaboration with other security agencies, went to the place.
“We thought that IPOB members were just normal people that gathered together to have unlawful meeting even when they know they are not lawful in Nigeria. But yesterday was very different. As soon as police got to the area, to their greatest surprise, Mr. John John, the DPO of Kpirikpiri Division, was seriously attacked.
“If not because he was seriously kitted as a policeman having his helmet on him and his bulletproof, he would have been killed. By now you would have just heard that a Chief Superintendent of Police is dead.
“Their lawyer, who was with the IPOB members, was arrested. I talked with him and I was surprised that he denied being their legal adviser. He said he was taking their briefs. I don’t know the difference between a legal adviser and somebody who takes a brief for an organisation.
“Many of them ran away but we were able to arrest at least six of them; they are in custody. They are fully dressed in IPOB uniform.” Similarly, IPOB, in a statement issued by Emma Powerful, who serves as Publicity secretary, claimed security agencies opened fire on them, causing 17 of its members to be injured.
“We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) find it distasteful that rather than confront rampaging and murderous attitude of the Nigerian army and police who have continued their incessant and unwarranted attacks against the peaceful family of IPOB in Ebonyi State, a combined team of Nigeria Armed Forces invaded the venue of a peaceful IPOB gathering in Ebonyi LGA at 5pm on Sunday 27 October 2019 with more than 50 Hilux vans during an inauguration ceremony and opened fire on defenceless mothers and fathers without warning,’’ the group said. Spokesman of the Army, Musa Sagir, did not respond to requests for reaction at the time of filing this report.