Despite being labelled a terrorist organisation by the federal government, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, staged a demonstration in Onitsha, the Anambra State capital, threatening voters not to participate in the November 18 governorship election in the state.
The federal government had in September secured a court order to label the secessionist group a terrorist organisation, a move that has been criticised and opposed by some local and international organisations.
According to Premium Times, the IPOB spokesperson said their demonstration was intended to notify the federal government that the group is alive. “If you vote you will die. Don’t go out, stay in your house. If you vote on November 18, you will die. We are not running around for the zoo,” the members sang as they marched around the commercial town, abutting the River Niger on Friday.
“There will be no election. We will not participate, we will not vote. Nothing concerns us with any election. We are formidable. “We are in Onitsha to tell the Federal Government to produce Kanu. They should release all the Biafrans in Nigerian prisons.”
The whereabouts of Mr. Kanu, who is facing treason charges, has not been identified since IPOB members clashed with soldiers in Abia State in September. Dozens of IPOB members have since been arrested and are being prosecuted by the police.
Videos of Saturday’s protest have since gone viral on the social media.
Emma Powerful, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, told journalists the group will not be deterred from achieving a Biafra Republic. “Today in Onitsha, we broke the python Buratai, Ohanaeze, Obiano and Igbo governors brought to our land,” Mr. Powerful basted, making reference to the now concluded Operation Python dance of the Nigerian Army.
“Anybody doubting the resolve of IPOB under the supreme command of Nnamdi Kanu is mistaken. “We will put Anambra State on lockdown on November 18. This is a taste of what is to come. Nigeria should be prepared.”
Nkeiruka Nwode, Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Police Command, said the IPOB march has no effect, insisting that the state police command had concluded arrangements for effective policing of the state during the election.
She asked residents of the state to go out en masse to exercise their franchise on the day of the election. Also, Jimoh Moshood, the Force spokesperson, warned the IPOB members not to interfere with the election process in their own interest, adding that the police would deal with them “the way an outlawed group should be dealt with”.
“They (IPOB) should steer clear of Anambra because we have deployed enough personnel in the state; any miscreant who misbehaves would have himself to blame as he would be dealt with. IPOB should not test our will or resolve,” Mr. Moshood warned.
Speaking in like manner, Sagir Musa, spokesperson for the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, which covers the South-east region, said troops have been placed on alert to tackle any breakdown of law and order during the election.
“The troops are always on ground to prevent any breakdown of law and order during the election. As you know, the police are the first line of security and we cannot usurp their role,” Mr. Musa said. “We have mastered the areas and we are familiar with the hideouts of the troublemakers.”