No fewer than seven persons have been confirmed dead following protest by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), in Asaba on Monday.
The Acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Delta, SP Charles Muka, who confirmed this in a statement, added that the police recorded two casualties.
He said in the statement that five members of MASSOB were killed by military officers who had confrontations with the group along the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway in Asaba.
It stated that the military arrested and brought eight members of MASSOB to the police and “are now in custody in Asaba.’’
But MASSOB has distanced itself from the clash. In a telephone interview with PUNCH, MASSOB leader Uchenna Madu, said:
“We’re not involved in the protest that paralysed commercial activities in the area.”
According to the Police PRO, the protesters turned violent and attacked the policemen deployed to monitor the protest, killed two and injured two others.
“We had to deploy our officers to ensure that the protest was peaceful but we were surprised that the people turned violent.
“To our surprise, they started attacking our men and at Okwe Junction in Abraka area of Asaba, the group killed a police corporal and took his AK47 riffle.
“Also along the Dennis Osadeby Way in Asaba, they wounded a police officer and took his anti-riot gun.
“This group also attacked and wounded two policemen, suspected to be marine police, and threw them into the River Niger at Cable Point in Asaba and in the process one died and one was rescued.
“This brings the casualty number to two with two others injured on the side of the police.
“The protesters also attacked military vehicles along the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway which left four members of the group dead and eight others arrested and brought to the police headquarters.”
It added that a pregnant woman was hit by a stray bullet during the fracas but now receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.
The statement advised parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to follow the part of peace and pursue their agenda constitutionally.
MASSOB leader, Madu, however, accused security operatives of killing innocent and unarmed Nigerians.
“Security operatives of the Federal Government are arresting and killing people who are non-violent. Is it because we are not armed? It appears the only language the Nigerian security understands is violence.
This issue is not about MASSOB or IPOB. It is about Ndigbo generally. In the ongoing killings, innocent people were also targets.
The government is negotiating with Niger Delta militants and faceless Boko Haram, but is threatening to wipe out pro-Biafra agitators because they are Igbo.