This was just as security agents comprising the men of the police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Department of State Services, Army and Air Force also marched around major streets in Owerri and other parts of the state.
Singing pro-Biafran songs, the secessionist groups distributed handbills, with the inscription “2017 Biafran heroes’ Remembrance Day. We remember our fallen heroes from 1966 to 2017 – the 3.5 million Biafrans killed in Nigeria Biafra war, the over 200 IPOB members killed from 2015 till date; the 30th May, 2017 sit-at-home and celebrating 50th Biafran anniversary.”
Amidst cheers from residents, who came out to watch them, MASSOB and IPOB members demonstrated on the street, clutching various Biafran insignia into.
They, however, did not clash with the security agents who were equally on a separate procession.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the phone, MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, said by the procession, security agents were helping his organisation to make the May 30 celebration a huge success.
Madu said members of his group were on the streets to sensitise the people on the need to sit at home on Tuesday in honour of Biafran activists who died while fighting for the freedom of the Biafran people.
The MASSOB leader accused security agents of orchestrating plans to attack his members and IPOB during the celebrating.
“We are not deterred by what the security agents are doing. They are instilling fear into our people thereby helping to make the celebration a success. They want to attack us tomorrow (Tuesday), but we are not deterred,” he said.
The police spokesperson in the state, Andrew Enwerem, told one of our correspondents on the phone that the combined procession by operatives of the different security agencies was “Operation Joint Show of Force.”
He explained that its purpose was to sensitise the people on the need to go about their lawful duties and disregard the “sit-at-home” directive by the pro-Biafran agitators.
The police in Imo State assured residents of the state to shun the “sit-at-home” order issued by the members of MASSOB and IPOB, saying that they had the capability and capability to protect them from the pro-Biafran agitators.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, in a statement issued in Owerri on Monday, stated that the Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, in conjunction with heads of other security agencies, advised the residents not to fall prey to the propaganda and instruction issued by the Biafran agitators about the “sit-at-home” on Tuesday.
He said in line with instruction by the Inspector-General of Police to commissioners of police to keep their states on red alert ahead of the celebration, the command in collaboration with other security agencies had started an “operation show of force” and other simulation exercises in the state capital to sensitise the people that the police would protect them.
Advising parents and guardians to admonish their children and wards against taking part in any violent conduct, Enwerem described MASSOB and IPOB members as unpatriotic elements whose “identities remain largely unknown.”
But IPOB on Monday alleged that security agencies had placed surveillance on its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
In a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB said the Afaraukwu residence of Kanu in Umuahia was under siege.
He said the Nigerian Air Force was using helicopter to monitor Kanu’s community and environs.
It maintained that the police and army attacked its members, who were evangelising in Aba on Monday.