Shops, schools and businesses were shut in south-east Nigeria on Tuesday, 50 years to the day since an independent rRepublicof Biafra was declared, sparking a brutal civil war.
In Onitsha, the economic hub of Anambra state on the banks of the River Niger, most markets were closed and the streets were largely empty of people and traffic.
Separatist sentiment persists in the region, which is dominated by the Igbo people, and the main pro-Biafran independence group has called on supporters to stay at home.
“No work today, we are Biafran, we are not Nigerians,” said Ebere Ichukwu Eli, one of the few people to venture outside, where there was a visible security presence.
“No violence, it is a peaceful sit at home. We are protesting peacefully,” the 47-year-old told AFP.
A woman who gave her name only as Justine, said: “The market is closed today. I’m just going home to stay with my children.
“We want our one Biafra. It’s our land. That’s why we all sit at home today.”
– Over 100 arrested –
The closures were either to commemorate the anniversary in support or because of fears of violence, local people said.
Nigerian police last week denounced “planned protests and order of market closures” and warned it would “deal decisively” with any breach of the peace or unlawful protest.
Last year, demonstrations marking the declaration of Biafran independence turned bloody. Amnesty International said the military gunned down more than 60 people.
Since August 2015, more than 150 people have been killed in pro-Biafra protests, said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho. Nigeria’s government denies the claim.
“We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force,” he added.
Amnesty said the security forces had arrested more than 100 members of pro-Biafran separatist groups in the run-up to Tuesday’s anniversary.
Calls for independence never disappeared even after the 30-month civil war, which left more than one million dead, most of them Igbos, mainly from starvation and disease.
Many people accuse the government of failing to invest in the southeast since the end of the war in 1970, blighting development. Some see it as a punishment for the conflict.
Support for secession has increased since the arrest in late 2015 of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the pro-independence Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement.
Buhari not a democrat, must be sacked in 2019 – Atiku averred
POLITICS – Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being undemocratic despite coming to power in 2015 through a democratic process.
Atiku stated this on Thursday when he visited Kogi State delegates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The presidential aspirant noted that Nigerians are presently suffering under the All Progressive Congress-led Federal Government.
He debunked the insinuation that he currently holds grudge against his former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I will continue to express my reservations on the willingness of President Buhari to hand over power. I have a simple and straight explanation for this. When Buhari took over power in 1983, they asked him of his transition to civil rule, then he responded, he doesn’t have.
“My stand is that one, he is not a democrat. Secondly, he is only using democracy to go back to power. If he loses election in 2019, he must hand over power” Atiku averred.
NYSC member battling for life after soldier’s assault in Kaduna camp
The corper, set to complete his service next month, had been appointed to the brigade band to train the current corps members. However, at the end of the parade, he excused himself and was planning to leave when a female soldier stopped him and said he couldn’t go.
He allegedly tried to explain to the soldier that he had to leave, as he is not bounded by the camp rules, but the soldier started harassing him. A male soldier later joined his colleague and kicked the corper, who fell and landed awkwardly on his head. The soldier was said to have pulled him up with his belt, raised him high and dropped him, making him faint immediately.
The victim was then rushed to the camp clinic, where preliminary assessment showed that he broke his neck in the process. He was later rushed out of the camp to a clinic and it’s being rumored that he is now between life and death.
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