Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu is alleging there is a plot to assasinate him, amid growing concerns that his cult following is a ticking bomb.
His allegation is coming as a video went viral showing soldiers torturing alleged members of IPOB beside the Aba-Umuahis road. Some were seen face down in a pond, while another lay down bloody, appearing dead.
Soldiers were seen hitting young men with sticks as they were made to run in between stick-wielding soldiers across a road to a muddy pond.
The Army, through its spokesman, Brigadier-General Sani Usman, was at a loss to confirm the video, but said the Army General Officer Commanding the Division there, Major-General Adamu Abubakar, was investigating the viral video.
This is as the curfew in Aba, the commercial capital of the South-East geopolitical zone enters its last day Thursday.
No one is sure it may not be extended by the State government despite the relative calm.
It was gathered that the attack on traders of northern extraction by elements suspected to be associated with IPOB and the clashes between security forces informed the curfew.
“They even allegedly burnt a Dangote truck passing through Aba. People for their own personal reasons are escalating the situation under the guise of IPOB. The group also consists of ill-informed elements. They are calling Kanu a supreme commander. The other day, one person said he was sick, but as soon as Kanu laid hands on him he got well. Can you imagine? That is a dangerous cult following. Sadly, we do not have the right people to arrange a decent and face-saving passage to exile for him. They don’t know diplomacy; all they are concerned about is using violence to crush opposition and violence” a source said in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
The military said it moved against IPOB members after they threw missiles at soldiers, but Kanu in his version claimed soldiers woke him up from his afternoon siesta and harassed his followers.
The tension is believed to have spilled to Aba.
Meanwhile, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Police reported the death of a Sergeant of its mobile unit in the hands of alleged IPOB members who carried out an attack. The attackers also went away with the policeman’s submachine gun, the Police Commissioner alleged.
Meantime, South-East Governors are billed to meet on Friday with military chiefs, IPOB leader, Kanu, has said he will no longer be attending the meeting.
The Governors have also said they have not taken a position on the presence of soldiers in the zone.
Kanu in his statement on Wednesday said: “Before now, prominent leaders and groups had insisted that I tow the line of peaceful dialogue and meet with the governors to find a lasting solution to our grievances. I conceded to that request which led to the 30th of August 2017 meeting with the South-East Governors Forum at the Government House in Enugu, in the company of the very eminent Prof. Ben Nwabueze and Evangelist Elliott Ugochukwu-Ukoh.
“In view of the concerted effort by the oppressive Nigerian state to shatter the peace and tranquility of the South-East and the rest of Biafraland through military intimidation, it has become necessary for me to clarify why, regrettably, I may not be able to attend Friday’s meeting with the South-East governors as earlier agreed, for three main reasons.
“We are currently busy attending to our dead and injured from this latest round of unprovoked military onslaught against innocent civilians in our own land. All the casualties so far were shot by men of the Nigerian Army deployed to my house and those stationed along motor ways leading into Umuahia my hometown.
“I have been reliably informed also, that a detachment of these same soldiers responsible for the murder of innocent unarmed IPOB family members have now been stationed near Enugu to ambush and assassinate me on my way to the meeting with the governors on Friday.
“On that same Friday the 15th of September 2017, the leadership of IPOB through the instrumentality of the Directorate of State (DOS) headquartered in Germany, will be meeting to vote on the viability or otherwise of continuing our struggle in this non-violent manner. There is urgent need to begin the process of defending ourselves in the face of relentless murderous attacks from the Nigerian state.
“It is impossible to engage in any meaningful conversation with the governors in the midst of so much bloodshed, abductions and military siege of our town and villages. Accordingly, we will not engage in any meeting with anybody until the atmosphere is conducive and peaceful enough to allow for such.
“The siren-blaring military convoys and armoured vehicles occupying the entire region is not only designed to intimidate our people but also deliberately primed to scuttle the IPOB/South-East governors meeting of Friday 15th September.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank all men and women of good conscience from all over the world that have risen to condemn the barbaric slaughter of innocent Biafrans by the Nigerian military.
“Above all, I salute the steadfastness, devotion and total commitment to freedom from eternal slavery by the great IPOB family in Biafraland. I assure you that I remain resolute and dedicated to our shared vision of freedom regardless of the cost and visionless antics of the mindless oppressor.
“We have since crossed the Red Sea and arrived at the shores of the promised land. We have our trumpets ready to begin the great march around the evil walls of Jericho, and I assure you that in no distant time, the walls of Jericho will come crashing down.
“We can still hear the cries of Pharaoh and his horsemen as they are swallowed up by the Red Sea, chariots and all. Victory is ours! Victory is assured!!
“Collaborators and agents of the oppressor are hereby advised to embark on self-exile as there will be no hiding place for them”.
Also, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has called for calm and restraint following reports of violent clashes linked to members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abia and Rivers State.
The party, through its spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, also regretted the incident at the National Union of Journalist (NUJ) Secretariat in Umuahia, Abia State capital, where some journalists were assaulted, and commended the Army has apologising and initiating investigations.
The statement reads further: “While the Party insist that security agencies must adhere with globally-stipulated rules of engagements and laws governing their operations, we must allow our security agencies to conduct their constitutional roles of securing lives and property without hindrance and provocation.
“We also call on citizens, social commentators, media influencers and other stakeholders to be careful and mindful of their utterances on the clashes. Stoking tensions by inciting utterances, hate speech and all other forms of awful propaganda will only push the country to the precipice.
“When we see the devastation of the Country’s North East by Boko Haram, the 1966 Nigerian civil war and similar conflicts in other countries, we are reminded of the effects of internal strife.
“We must not yield to elements beating the drumbeats of war. We owe the peace and unity of our dear country to the present and unborn generations. We must speak and stand up for peaceful coexistence on our social media platforms, places of worship and all other public spaces we belong.
“On the backdrop of recent agitations and actions which have the potential of undermining the unity of our country and our relationship across religious and ethnic divides, the Party cautions that we must ensure that such agitations are peaceful and lawful. The Party reiterates its belief that it is in our collective interest to support and remain steadfast to the cause of a united Nigeria.”