Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro Tells OAS Head to 'Stick It'
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a rally with pro-government members of the public transport sector in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

The Washington-based body has released a 132-page report that initiates a process that could end in Venezuela's suspension from the OAS.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reacted strongly Tuesday to the decision by Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro to invoke the body’s democratic charter to “review” the political situation in the South American country, setting the stage for outside intervention.

“No one will impose any charter in Venezuela," Maduro said at a rally in Caracas. "Mr. Almagro, stick your democratic charter where it fits you…. You must respect Venezuela!”

The Washington-based body on Tuesday presented a 132-page report on political situation in Venezuela, signed by Almagro, that initiates a process that could end in the suspension of Venezuela from the OAS.

Among other things, OAS is urging that a recall referendum on President Maduro's future be held this year. The body is also demanding the release of what they say are "political prisoners" and a "restoration of a balance of powers in the National Assembly and Supreme Court."

In a statement issued Tuesday, the foreign minister of Venezuela “categorically" rejected the "fraudulent" OAS move.

“Luis Almagro has been biased, with no ethical scruple, he’s with those who are leading a coup, violent and anti-democratic groups of the opposition, with support from international interfering sectors that promote the overthrow of the legitimate and constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro Moros,” the statement says.

A former Uruguayan foreign minister, Almagro has been harshly critical of the government of President Maduro. Earlier this month he stepped out of diplomatic protocol and penned a hostile letter to the socialist leader accusing him of spreading lies and sliding toward becoming a “petty dictator.”

Almagro is the first head of the OAS to activate the charter against a member state against the will of its government, a step he takes based on Article 20, which authorizes the secretary-general or any member state to call for an immediate permanent council meeting.
Temer Picks Pro-US, Pro-Privatization Lawmaker to Lead Brazil Senate
Aloysio Nunes was also a key figure in Dilma Rousseff's impeachment. | Photo: Wiki Commons

31 May 2016

President Temer has chosen Aloysio Nunes as his new leader in Brazil’s Senate, a man who has frequently pushed for closer relations to the U.S.

Aloysio Nunes, a key opposition figure involved in former President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment who has ties to Washington, has been appointed the new government leader in Brazil’s Senate, Reporter Diario reported Tuesday.

Nunes, of the center-right party PSDB, will be meeting at the Presidential Palace for the invitation to be formalized. President Michel Temer called the president of the PSDB Tuesday morning to communicate his choice.

The day Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted to impeach the country’s president Dilma Rousseff, Nunes was sent to Washington by Temer.

He met with various U.S. officials and lobbyists, including the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the Washington lobbying firm Albright Stonebridge Group that was formerly headed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The choice to send Nunes to Washington was likely a strategic one. He lost his bid for the vice presidency with PSDB in 2014, the year Rousseff was reelected, and he has repeatedly called for closer ties with the U.S. Like other members of the House who pushed for impeachment, Nunes has many corruption allegations against him.

Isabel Monteiro, an artist and activist based in Sao Paulo, criticized Nunes’ new role on Twitter, stating: “What's really behind the appointment of Aloysio Nunes as new Gov leader at the Senate? Oil. É o Petróleo, stupid!”

Nunes has been one of the key figures behind a proposal to open up the country’s Presalt Oil reserves to foreign investors, wresting control away from the state oil company, Petrobras. These reserves are estimated to be worth around US$10-20 trillion.  
Political Crisis in Brazil: There Is No Light at the End of the Tunnel
By Ivonaldo Leite

It is not possible to understand the Brazilian crisis and the farce of impeachment without taking into account some basic issues.

Actions speak louder than words. This phrase defines the current Brazilian political situation very well. After the right-wing opposition to president Dilma Rousseff denied that her impeachment was a coup, several hidden recordings show exactly the opposite. Yes, it was a coup, a conspiracy of corrupt Brazilianpoliticians to block investigations they are involved in.

The impeachment process is a farce. The president is not implicated in the corruption cases that are being investigated, and she is has not personally benefitted from diverted public money. The budgetary processes irregularities of which she is accused are a common practice in Brazil, and are in fact a mere pretext to carry out her deposition.

It is not possible to understand the Brazilian crisis and the farce of impeachment without taking into account some basic issues.

The first issue is the mistake by the Workers Party and Lula of making political alliances with backward forces. Thus the Workers Party denied itself political perspective and history. These alliances were made without taking into account the possible ethical consequences. The price paid by the alliances with the former Brazilian political of establishment resulted in corruption cases in which also involve members of the Workers Party. But faced with this situation, President Dilma Rousseff has behaved rigorously, she was fully supporting the investigations carried out by the Federal Police.

The second issue is about the role played by the media. The major newspapers and television channels have acted like a political party, supporting the opponents of President Roussef. In this sense, the examples of the Globo television and the Veja magazine can be highlight. This shouldn't be a surprise because many TV channels, radio stations and newspapers in Brazil are the property of legislators, senators and governors who use them for their political interests.

On the other hand, the interim government of President Michel Temer has been a grotesque fraud, intending to adopt a program which was not approved by the people in elections. Similarly, it intends to eliminate social benefits that are fundamental pillars of incipient welfare state in Brazil.

It is difficult to conjecture about what will happen in Brazil in the near future. But sometimes the impression we have is that the country's situation is bizarre, but that there is something like a light at the end of a tunnel. So the best bet is mobilization of society to enforce the light of democracy.

Ivonaldo Leite is a Sociologist, Ph.D from the University of Porto, Portugal and a Professor at the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil.
'In Brazil There is a Pre-Chávez Atmosphere'
In office only three weeks Brazil's acting president Michel Temer saw his second minister resign. New elections might be inevitable, but could also help populists to reach the presidency, says expert Oliver Stuenkel.

DW: Mr. Stuenkel, two newly appointed ministers have resigned after leaked recordings seem to reveal their desire to prevent prosecutors from investigating political allies. Was it just Temer's bad choice of personnel, or is it something symptomatic for this government?

I think this is symptomatic for Brazilian politics in general. The unusual aspect of the current situation is that a corruption investigation is profoundly destabilizing the government and politics overall. It is something completely new in Brazil that investigations are independent, that powerful people are being brought to justice. The Federal Police in the "Lava Jato" ("car wash") scandal have such broad public support that it is impossible for the government to control investigations. And these revelations are causing great instability because nobody knows what comes next.

'The big test comes with the next boom'

The political instability may delay the economic recovery; yet, the government not being able to control corruption investigations sounds like good thing.

Absolutely, they are a painful but necessary step for a maturing democracy. And a lot of people hope this to be the beginning of cleaner politics. But a rule of political science in Latin America says: people care about corruption only when economic growth is low. And economic growth in Brazil right now is negative. So the big test to Brazilian democracy will come when commodity prices boom and the economy grows again. [Traditionally people in Brazil then let corrupt politicians get away saying "Roba, mas faz." - "He steals, but he gets things done."]

The acting president Michel Temer stepped into office as President Dilma Rousseff's vice-president, after she was controversially impeached. Do you see people proved right, who claimed that Rousseff was removed for political reasons, rather than for alleged budget manipulation?

Rousseff certainly did not fall because of the alleged budgeting trickery, but because she failed to govern properly. If she hadn't fallen for this, she had fallen for that.

'Rousseff is a terrible politician'

So, even though the Temer government has lost much of its already meager support, Rousseff is still not likely to come back?

No. Not even Rousseff's Worker's Party (PT) wants her back because everybody knows that she was a terrible president. She may be a good person, but she is a terrible politician. Except a quite radical group, she has no public support and no authority in politics.

So is Brazil heading for new elections?

Let alone his resigned ministers, Temer has made a lot of amateur mistakes in public. He may simply renounce, but the most likely thing to happen is: if the Temer government becomes unsustainable and protests rise, the courts will impeach the Temer government as well. This is not to say that they will judge false rulings. But I attribute to them a very acute sense of their responsibility to avoid further instability. And there are allegations against both Temer and Rousseff of illicitly financing their presidential campaigns in 2014.

Who has an interest in new elections?

That is hard to say. The PT is in a terrible shape after all that happened, and the PSDB, which is the other big moderate party in Brazil, is in an internal power battle. But there is public pressure: around 70 per cent of the Brazilian population would demand new elections.

'An ideal scenario for populists'

Considering that there is seemingly no politician with a clean record, what could new elections do to contribute to more stability?

Indeed, you have a kind of a pulverization in Brazilian politics and a rejection of the entire political class - an ideal scenario for populists. In Brazil, there is a pre-Berlusconi or pre-Chávez atmosphere.

The same happened in Italy during the "Mani pulite" investigations in the early 90s that led to the election of Silvio Berlusconi, and also in Venezuela in the process that helped Hugo Chávez to become president. In new elections there could be ten or more candidates, ranging from moderates, like ex-president Lula Da Silva and his adversary in the 2002 elections José Serra, to right-wing xenophobic Jair Bolsonaro. With so many candidates, radicals have a good chance to proceed to the second round with only 10 per cent of the votes. That is the major concern right now.

That is quite a dark outlook. It there a more favorable one?

Although I tend to prefer early new elections, I see the argument that Temer serving out his term might help to calm things down a bit. So if the Temer government takes Brazil out of the emergency room, the following elected government could bring the country out of the hospital. But that will not happen until 2020.

And in the long run?

The vast majority in Brazil rejects the ruling politicians, but continues to believe in democracy. So, it will be crucial for Brazil that the big moderate parties, the PT on the center-left and the PSDB on the center-right, renew themselves entirely. Only a completely new leadership that openly admits and regrets the mistakes of the past will be able to avoid a radicalization on either the left or right.

Oliver Stuenkel is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in São Paulo and a non-resident Fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin.
This interview was conducted by Jan D. Walter.
It’s Time African Researchers Stopped Working in Silos
May 31, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Thomas Kariuki Correspondent

Seven years ago Bassirou Bonfoh, the director of the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifique in Cote d’Ivoire, joined forces with 10 other African institutions. Their plan was to collaborate on research into infections that pass between animals and humans. Many of these infections, such as Ebola, Zika and HIV, are sadly world famous.

The collaboration enabled Bonfoh to access data from as far afield as Tanzania and extend his remit to rift valley fever, an infection that has had several outbreaks since it was first detected in 1931.

Crucially, throughout this collaboration, Bonfoh has avoided duplicating research. This is rare in Africa. Even though most African countries face similar health and developmental challenges, researchers work in silos. This wastes limited human resources and infrastructure. It also means that researchers are competing for a small pool of grants and decreasing their chances of success. A 2010 report by Thomson Reuters found that of the continent’s six stronger research nations — Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia — not one had an African country among its top five collaborating countries.

Why is collaboration so crucial? Bonfoh’s experience shows that it ensures more scientists are trained and knowledge is generated that can be fed into policy-making processes. Bonfoh’s group has trained 12 post-doctoral fellows and 45 Masters and PhD students from 2010 to date. The collaboration he was part of involved 11 African research centres and universities conducting zoonosis research and training postgraduate students in the field. Sadly, this story is rare. There are a number of stumbling blocks to intra-African collaboration that must be urgently addressed.

Barriers to sharing

Geographical and political barriers prevent Africans from working together. For instance, when Bonfoh organised a meeting in 2013 he had to negotiate with his government to arrange for visas on arrival for his peers from countries without Ivorian embassies. This problem is replicated all over the continent.

Allowing the free movement of researchers is necessary for networking, which is the foundation of collaboration. Unlike people, diseases and developmental challenges don’t know geographical barriers and their spread has come at a tremendous cost for the continent.

The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015 provides a good example. It caused an estimated loss of $2.2 billion to the already hard hit economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The outbreak wasn’t new to Africa: there had previously been similar ones in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the absence of intra-Africa collaboration meant lessons could not easily be shared so the human and economic loss could not be avoided.

This is what we need to change.

Pooling human resources and providing people with career opportunities is important. PhD supervisors in Africa are a scarce commodity, and institutions must pull together to train future scientists. Otherwise, Africa will continue losing thousands of professionals every year to developed countries. Africans scientists who leave are often frustrated by the lack of infrastructure and mentors.

This is why programmes funding research in Africa must be deliberate about promoting collaboration across the continent. One example of a programme that is getting this right is the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Africa Initiative (DELTAS). It is supporting large networks and consortiums — 11 programmes spanning 21 countries. There are 40 lead and partner institutions all collaborating to address emerging, infectious diseases as well as non-communicable diseases.

Another example is the Heredity and Health in Africa Consortium, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the US National Institutes of Health. This involves 24 collaborative projects conducting genomics research at institutions across the continent. There’s also the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement programme. This is being implemented by the African Academy of Sciences and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. It offers fellowships to post-Masters and post-doctoral researchers to spend a year in institutions outside their own studying the impact of climate change on the continent with the aim of facilitating intra-African collaboration.

It’s also important to overcome language barriers that have left researchers oblivious of each other’s work. Researchers in Francophone Africa do not always read African research published in English especially if it is not translated into French. Unfortunately this means researchers working in the same field of research don’t know each other. Intra-regional collaboration provides a platform for scientists from Anglo and Francophone Africa to share their work.

Power of the collective

Lastly, collaboration will help to mobilise political support for research. Projects that have wide continental relevance are more likely to be adopted at African Union and the NEPAD agency level than those that are focused on only one country.

And there is power in speaking collectively. Researchers need the support of the African Union to lobby for more government funding and improve Africa’s spend on research and development. This is currently just 1.3 percent of the total global spend. Increased investment should provide the surveillance systems and other resources to enable Africa to address its problems before they spiral out of control and result in huge financial losses or spread globally.

Bonfoh’s programme is already demonstrating the impact of collaboration. His network shows that the solutions to the most urgent health problems can come from within the continent, not outside it.

Walking together

Africa must take the initiative to lead its science and developmental agenda even as it receives global support. Collaboration will amalgamate different voices and ideas to promote and conduct research relevant to the continent’s needs. As the African saying goes:

“If you want to go fast, walk alone, and if you want to go far, walk together.” — Conversation Africa

Thomas Kariuki is the Director of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, African Academy of Sciences. 
South-East Nigeria Burns as Biafra Day Turns Bloody 
MAY 31, 201612:42
Nigerian Vanguard

By Emeka Mamah, Jimitota Onoyume,Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Francis Igata, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Cyril Ozor  & Chinedu Adonu Awka

Biafra Day anniversary celebration turned bloody, yesterday, in South-East states as soldiers and policemen clashed with pro-Biafra groups.

Victims of the clash in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. In the commercial city of Onitsha,  our reporters quoted eye witnesses as saying that about 40 people, including a soldier, were killed, while over 50 were arrested.

The incident, according to eye witnesses, started at about 3 a.m. when security forces entered the premises of St. Edmund’s Catholic Church, Nkpor Agu, near Onitsha and allegedly opened fire on the worshippers, accusing them of being Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, members, during which five were killed, while 10 others were injured.

The source further stated at 8 a.m., the security forces, who patrolled all nooks and crannies of Onitsha, Nkpor, Ogidi and environs, allegedly swooped on another batch of suspected IPOB members, where  about 20 were allegedly killed and scores injured.

At about 11 a.m, the patrol team allegedly killed another 15, thus bringing the total casualty rate to about 40.

However, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, said it was not involved in the protest that paralyzed commercial activities in the area. It was alleged that at 6 a.m, members of IPOB took to the streets, some naked, and were confronted by soldiers of the 312 Artillery Brigade, an action that allegedly led to scores of people losing their lives.

The pro-Biafra groups blocked most major streets in Onitsha and Niger Bridge head, which made most people to remain indoors. All markets in Onitsha were also closed.

Most of the killings were done at Nkpor, a suburb of Onitsha, where IPOB had chosen to celebrate Biafra Day. Two killed at Niger Bridge head According to Area Administrator of Nnewi Region of IPOB, Mr Sonny Chukwuebuka, two of  IPOB members met their untimely death at the Niger Bridge Head as they were coming from Asaba, Delta State capital, with others to join their Anambra State counterparts in the celebration.

They were said to have ran into soldiers, who denied them passage into Onitsha and in the process, a heated argument was said to have ensued. Vanguard learned that this later resulted in a bloody clash and consequently, a policeman was killed, while a soldier was stabbed.

MASSOB not involved

MASSOB leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said in a telephone interview that his organization was not involved in the protest, explaining that he had earlier issued a statement that this year’s Biafra Day should be celebrated quietly and that all MASSOB members should stay at home. Madu said though MASSOB was not involved in the protest, it was not enough reason for securitymen to open fire on innocent people.

He said: “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.” IPOB protest illegal —Anambra govt In its reaction, Anambra State government said the protest by IPOB, in Onitsha was illegal, noting that the group did not obtain the necessary police permit for the rally.

In an announcement shortly after the Onitsha incident, government, through the state Commissioner for Information and Communications Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta, said: “The attention of Anambra State government has been drawn to illegal demonstration by a group of individuals causing anxiety at Nkpor/Onitsha axis of the state.  The law enforcement agencies are on top of the situation and are currently working to restore normalcy and free movement for all law-abiding citizens.

“Ndi Anambra are, hereby, advised to remain calm and vigilant and go about their lawful businesses. All should note that there are laws against disturbance of public peace.”

50 members arrested, IPOB alleges

Also reacting to the clash, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, alleged that apart from about 40 people killed, security operatives also arrested over 50 members of the group and took them to an unknown destination.

He said: “We were celebrating Biafra without any form of violence and the question we are asking is whether we no longer have our fundamental rights.”

National Publicity Secretary of Campaign for Democracy (CD), Mr. Dede-Uzor-Dede, said the Federal Government should arrest those involved in the killings of the harmless youths, with a view to bringing them to justice, in line with Chapter 4, Sections 33 to 41 which centred on fundamental human rights and in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

Enugu Police arrest MASSOB, BIM members

Also, yesterday, no fewer than 13 suspected members of  Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra,MASSOB, and Biafra Independent Movement, BIM,were arrested by the Police at the Edinburgh axis of Enugu metropolis where they converged as take-off point to embark on peaceful demonstration to commemorate their independence.

An eyewitness told Vanguard that the pro-Biafra members stormed the venue at about 7.40 a.m. in a Toyota Hiace bus with number plate XG 265 UWN with flags and T-shirts bearing Biafra insignia and inscriptions.

They were said to have formed a circle, holding hands in prayers before the commencement of the protest when the police swooped on them. Confirming the arrest, Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ebere Amaraizu, Superintendent of Police, said  the protesters were rounded up following intelligence report on the would-be protest which made the command ban any form of protest.

“They converged on Edinburgh axis and the arrested suspects in their reactions maintained that they are members of MASSOB and BIM. They further stated that they were to converge and pray at the spot before embarking on procession with their flags to commemorate their independence.”

Chekwas Okorie urges Buhari to release Kanu

Meanwhile, Founder, United Progressives Party,UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie,yesterday, urged President Muhammad Buhari to release detained Nnamdi Kanu, Director Radio Biafra, as a prelude to dialogue with the aggrieved members of MASSOB, IPOB, and other affiliate groups demanding for Biafra secession. Similarly, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, declined to comment on the activities of MASSOB, IPOB, BIM and other affiliate groups involved in the averted protest.

President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Enwo Igariwey, told Vanguard on the phone: “I do not want to talk about anything concerning MASSOB and others involved in any protest.”

40 MASSOB members arrested in Nsukka church

In Nsukka, MASSOB raised alarm that the police arrested 40 of it members at St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka, yesterday, while attending a special thanksgiving mass in commemoration of 49th anniversary of the declaration of the defunct Biafran Republic by the late warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

The zonal leader of MASSOB in Enugu North, Chief James Omeke, said it was surprising that police circled the Catholic Cathedral, sneaked into the church and arrested the members at the special thanksgiving mass.

He said: ”The arrest, harassment and intimidation of the members would not deter the movement but would spur the struggle to freedom. Nigerian government has not been fair to the freedom of Biafra.”

Efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu. proved abortive as several calls to his line were not answered.

However, a senior police officer in Nsukka who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied any arrest. Pro-Biafra protesters shot in Umuahia In Umuahia, a member of MASSOB was said to have sustained gunshot wounds when police allegedly shot at the members, who held peaceful rally to mark 49th anniversary of Biafra.

He was said to have been rushed to an undisclosed hospital in the Abia State capital. Also, 10 members of the group were said to have been arrested by the police during the rally.

Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Youth Council has condemned the killings, saying it was wrong for the security to shoot citizens on a peaceful protest.

According to the Council, it is against international laws and conventions to attack unarmed protesters  with live bullets and called on the security operatives to respect the laws. Reacting to the Onitsha killing and shooting in Umuahia, President General of the council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, also said the mood of the nation required that the security agencies tread with caution so as not to heat up the polity.

Isiguzoro, therefore, called on the Federal Government to call the security operatives to order and caution them against incessant attacks on armless citizens. The Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Udeviotu Onyeke, when contacted, denied that any protester was fired at by the police.

He also denied that 10 protesters were arrested, saying police only arrested four activists. IPOB, MASSOB loyalists arrested in Imo In a similar development, the Imo State Police Command said it arrested only 17 loyalists of  MASSOB and IPOB, including two women, as against the 50 claimed by the groups.

The MASSOB and IPOB members kicked off the road show at Waterside Primary School Owerri, from where they moved to Rotibi Street to Oguamana Street before linking Douglas Road where heavily armed security men threw teargas at them at Ama JK. Mr Okechukwu Nwogu, a leader of MASSOB, who spoke to journalists in Owerri, regretted the arrest of members of the group who, according to him, were on a peaceful march to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Biafra and 17th anniversary of MASSOB.

The PPRO, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, who paraded those arrested, yesterday, before newsmen in Owerri, on behalf of the CP, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, saidthe MASSOB and IPOB loyalists were arrested along Tetlow/Okigwe Road Park, Owerri, by policemen who were on routine patrol.

Police stop protest, arrest 92 in Ebonyi

In Abakaliki Ebonyi State, the  state police command said it stopped the proposed protest by  MASSOB to mark their independence day in the state In a statement by the spokesperson of the command, ASP George Okafor, about 92 members led by one Vincent Nwamini and several other sub-leaders were arrested.

According to him, the command also discovered that the protest was a plot by miscreants to cause mayhem in the state.

7 die as MASSOB protests in Asaba

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 MASOB to the police and “are now in custody in Asaba.” According to him, 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 rifle.

“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 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.

12 pro Biafra protesters arrested in Rivers

In Rivers state, twelve members of Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign state of Biafra, MASSOB were arrested yesterday at Oyigbo local government area by the Police during a peaceful protest by the body.

Oyigbo Regional Administrator of the body,  Mr  Sunday  Amuzie and the Rivers south Director of Information and Publicity of the group, Mr Anukem Anthony condemned the arrest, saying it will not stop them from their peaceful agitation. They further called on the Inspector General of Police to order immediate release of their members arrested.

Amuzie said : “Today is a big   day for Biafra people because it is the anniversary of Biafra independence.   It is what we are celebrating today. You know the mentality of Nigeria Police, they don’t maintain the law.

“If,   in deed, they are people that maintain law, not just enforcing it,   they do not have any reason whatsoever, to arrest any group of persons who are carrying out a peaceful activity.

“MASSOB is a non-violent movement and would continue to remain so, till the actualization of the freedom.   No matter the level of harassment, we will continue to maintain the non-violent principle”.

We don’t need this distraction now—Okorocha Reacting to the development, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State said the development was a distraction which the South-East  does not need at this point.

A statement signed by his  Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said: “What the South-East  and her people need at the moment is economic revolution to reposition the area for development and growth. Anything short of this lofty dream is a distraction. What the people of the zone need to do now is to tap into President Buhari’s administration to get their due. They should forget these distractions.”

Former Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nduka Eya, has said IPOB had no reason to confront soldiers if it was engaged in peaceful demonstration. Eya, who spoke against reports that soldiers opened fire on IPOB members who were celebrating Biafran heroes at Nkpo, near Onitsha, warned those agitating for Biafran to remember that Biafra died in 1970 when the secessionist war ended in the country.

“I had always said that Nigerians must be disciplined and also imbibe the habit of engaging in peaceful demonstration.

“Anybody who wants to embark on peaceful demonstration must obtain police permit.

“If you do so, the police will provide security and ensure that hooligans do not hijack it. This is the standard behaviour all over the world.

“If it is true that the IPOB people actually killed a soldier, the natural reaction would be for his colleagues to open fire on the demonstrators.

“Many of us still have Biafra in our hearts but nobody should engage in illegality. They kill you and you are out. As long as we continue to engage in illegality, we will not get our bearing."

Efforts to get the Presidency’s reaction proved abortive as the Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina could be reached.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/05/646391/
Nigerian Government Deploys 5 Warships, 100 Gunboats, Fighter Jets to Delta Creeks 
MAY 31, 201612:58
Nigeria Vanguard

By Emma Amaize, Samuel Oyadongha, Sebastine Obasi, Egufe Yafugborhi, Akpokona Omafuaire and Perez Brisibe

The federal government, yesterday, deployed an armada of five warships, 100 gunboats and fighter jets to the creeks of the Niger Delta, in response to continued bombing of oil and gas pipelines by Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.

This heightened tension in the coastal communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, even as helicopter gunships were seen hovering at low altitude in the predominantly riverine council.

It was gathered that while the Airforce deployed the fighter jets and helicopter gunships, the Army swooped on four more Ijaw communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, for the militants. Bayelsa travellers from the hinterland, confirmed the large military presence in the tricky mangrove swamp of the council, which at the height of youth militancy, had the largest concentration of militant camps in the Delta.

“There is a massive security operation going on in the area. Fighter jets and helicopter gunships have been hovering around the airspace at low level, apparently on surveillance mission. Many of the natives are worried about the development,” said Ayebatari, an indigene of the area.

However, an Agip source told Vanguard that the company had, amid tight security, commenced repair of the damaged section of  Tebidaba-Brass delivery line destroyed on Sunday by militants. “Yes, the repair work is being done under the radar,” he said in reference to the aerial coverage by the military.

Meanwhile, the invasion of Ijaw communities,  which started about 1.52a.m., on Saturday, with the take-over of Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom and Kurutie, also known as “Little London,” the country home of ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, Okerenkoko, Kokodigbane and Benikrukru, yesterday, has caused food crisis in Gbaramatu clan.

Residents, who fled Oporoza, three days ago to the neighbouring Azama community, are famished, as they had not eaten for the period, while soldiers were reportedly not allowing them to return to the community to look for food and pick their clothes.

The traditional ruler of Gbaramatu kingdom, HRM Williams Ogboba, Oboro Gbaraun II, narrated the ordeal of the people when the Special Adviser to the President on Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (retd), visited him at his palace in Oporoza, Delta State, on Sunday.

He said he was under house arrest and had not taken his bath since soldiers invaded his kingdom, while his subjects in Oporoza had all fled. Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, confirmed, yesterday, that the security agencies were now working in synergy to rout the Avengers.


He said:  “We (Navy) use helicopter. If you spot it, you will clearly identify it as belonging to us. You see Navy written on it.  The jet fighters and surveillance craft were deployed by Air Force to watch over the high risk areas against activities of the oil assets vandals and anyone else involved in criminality in the area.

“There is now strengthened synergy among the security agencies to stop this vandalism.  The synergy is there. I will advise those involved to steer clear and employ peaceful ways of agitating and engaging their minds.”

The fighter jets and surveillance aircraft were also seen flying around communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom and Ogulagha area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State about 10a.m. Ijaw leader, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, and Public Relations Officer of Oporoza Youth Executive, Paul Kirifade, confirmed the movement of the jet fighters and aircraft in the communities.

It was learned that the fighter jets and surveillance aircraft were deployed to enable the armed forces locate the militants, believed to be running helter-skelter and  hiding in the mangrove swamps after the occupation of Oporoza  and fly down on Kurutie and other communities, yesterday.

Our source said soldiers stormed Kurutie in six gunboats at 4.30a.m., while the people were still asleep. A 70-year-old man, identified as Mr. Dogood Ikekama, was allegedly molested and forced by the soldiers to take them round some houses in the community.

Meanwhile,  President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to focus more on intelligence gathering and collaboration with host communities in identifying the location of  Niger Delta Avengers.

Chairman of Grassroots Initiative for Peace and Social Orientation and one of the facilitators of the amnesty programme, Mr. Richard Akinaka, who condemned the renewed attacks as not representing the intention and interest of the Niger Delta, blamed it on protection of individual business interests of some unscrupulous people from the region.

To avoid collateral damage and hurting innocent villagers whose lives, he said, had been battered by neglect and lack of development, Akinaka said soldiers should desist from mass arrest but focus on identifying where the Avengers were located and take them out.

He said:  “What is happening in the region does not reflect the common interest of the people of the Niger Delta. It is orchestrated by a few disgruntled people for their selfish interests. We just finished six years of a Presidency headed by one of us, former President Goodluck Jonathan, why didn’t the Avengers carry out their agitation during his regime? ‘’We produced a President, who did nothing in six years to better the lot of his people, not even the road to Otuoke was touched under him while the East-West Road was left undone; so what justification do they have to protest now?”

Vanguard gathered that Tompolo’s father had since fled the community, following the hunt for his son but one of his wives, who was in town managed to run into the bush with other villagers before the soldiers reached the house.

She wept uncontrollably in her location as soldiers rummaged the house, but the soldiers, who also broke into and ransacked other homes in the town departed at about 6a.m.

The soldiers marched into Okerenkoko, Kokodiagbene and Benikrukru community when they left Kurutie.

According to the chairman of Kokodiagbene community,  Sheriff Mulade: “In the wee hours of yesterday, the Joint Military Task Force, codenamed Operations Pulo Shield, invaded more Ijaw communities in search of vandals and militants bombing oil and gas facilities in Delta state.

“The communities include Benikrukru, Kokodiagbene, Kurutie and Okerenkoko, all in Warri South West Council. According to the JTF, the operations, named Cordon and Search, was aimed at unmasking the militants and vandals, who are perpetrating the heinous crimes, requesting the communities to produce them,” he said.

Oil production plummets to 1.2 mbpd Nigeria’s oil production has continued to plummet as it, yesterday, stood at 1.2 million barrels per day, against the 1.4 million barrels recorded last week.

Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Garbadeen Mohammed, said:  “Our production is not less than, but about 1.2 million barrels per day.” The decline has been attributed to increased vandalism of crude oil pipelines by vandals, as well as increasing blow up of international oil companies’ platforms in the last two weeks. Onokpasa decries seizure of pots of soup by soldiers.

All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain in Delta State, Mr. Jesutega Onokpasa,  criticized the confiscation of household appliances and even pots of soup by invading soldiers in Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West council, saying such act would only present the military as unruly and unethical.

Calling on the Niger Delta Avengers to have a rethink and embrace dialogue,  he said:  “Everyone in Gbaramatu cannot be an Avenger and we cannot be talking of negotiation and at the same time invading Oporoza. ‘’What is required is intelligence, not brute force. These vandals could be operating from anywhere. Would they bomb a pipeline and then remain in the area waiting for the military to come after them?

“Stopping further destruction of our oil and gas infrastructure is of utmost priority, invading communities and going so far as confiscating household appliances and even pots of soup, will only present the military as undisciplined, untidy and unprofessional.”

Vanguard gathered that the greatest threat to the lives of residents, particularly Oporoza villagers, who fled to neighbouring Azama community since Saturday, is hunger. Chief Gbenekama and Oporoza youths spokesperson, Kirifade, said the helpless villagers had not eaten for three days, as there was no food in Azama community, where they escaped to.

Also, National President of  Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, Mr  Austin Ozobo, who confirmed that hunger had hit the displaced persons, said: “There is hunger everywhere as there is no food for the people to eat.

Food supply to the kingdom has been cut off by the military, which is not allowing boats to come in from Warri and other areas to bring food to the people.” Kirifade added: “It is sad that soldiers are not even allowing the trapped villagers to get canoes to go to their homes in Oporoza to look for food and pick up clothes. Some of them have not taken their bath since last Saturday.

“We are not Niger Delta Avengers, why should government classify every Gbaramatu man as a Niger Delta Avenger,  they should withdraw the soldiers because it is obvious that their aim is to commit genocide. Though, we thank God that in their indiscriminate shooting, nobody has been killed.”  

I’m under house arrest- Monarch Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro Gbaraun II (Aketekpe) Agadagba, who raised the  alarm when Brigadier-General Boroh (retd) visited his palace, said: “I am in pains, deep pains, this is the third time the military has invaded the community. They came with large number of soldiers, harassing and beating up women, there are kids missing now.”

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/05/fg-deploys-5-warships-100-gunboats-fighter-jets-delta-creeks/
Nigeria Loses N13bn to Oil Theft, Vandalism in One Month 
MAY 31, 201612:34
By Michael Eboh
Nigerian Vanguard

Nigeria has lost N12.566 billion in one month due to petroleum products theft and vandalisation of the facilities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

Giving a breakdown of the losses, the NNPC, in its Monthly Financial and Operations Report for March 2016, disclosed that crude oil loss amounted to N5.94 billion; petroleum products losses stood at N1.757 billion, while N4.87 billion was spent on pipeline repairs and management cost.

Gas pipeline According to the report, the losses negatively affected NNPC’s transfer to the Federation Account from the domestic sale of crude oil and gas. Specifically, the report noted that transfers to the Federation Account by the NNPC dipped by N9.23 billion to N69.544 billion in March, compared N76.614 billion recorded in the preceding month.

Domestic sale of crude oil

However, the report highlighted that NNPC’s total payment to the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, in the month under review stood at N75.874 billion, due to the payment of N6.33 billion, which was for the repayment of a N450 billion debt to the Federal Government.

The NNPC, the report added, earned N67.01 billion and N2.535 billion from the domestic sale of crude oil and gas respectively, bringing the total sales receipts in the month under review to N69.544 billion. To this end, the NNPC stated that the sum of N1.118 trillion had been paid to the Federation Account being domestic crude oil and gas and other receipts from April 2015 to March 2016.

Also, the report noted that in the last one year, between April 2015 and March 2016, the NNPC had recorded crude oil losses of N15.456 billion; petroleum products losses of N42.93 billion, while N95.118 billion had been expended on pipeline repairs and management. In addition, the NNPC expended N249.329 billion on subsidy in the last one year, from April 2015 to March 2016, while it earned N918.8 billion from crude oil sales within the period under review.

The report further disclosed that incessant vandalism and products theft had continued to destroy value, putting the NNPC at disadvantaged competitive position. It argued that a reduction in vandalism will indeed unlock several industry upsides which include improved upstream oil production due to reduced pipeline disruptions, improved refinery utilization due to increased crude oil feed from restored pipelines, and reduction of crude/product losses.

According to the report, a total of 3,153 vandalized points were recorded between April 2015 and March 2016, adding, that crude and products losses had continued to cost NNPC and the country huge amount of money.

In particular, the report stated that the 48-inch Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) Export line was vandalized in February 2016, which crippled the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC and all Joint Venture, JV, partners’ ability to export crude oil from the terminal.

It noted that this situation led to the declaration of force majeure by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, occasioned by production shut-in of about 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

However, the report stated that the, “NNPC leadership is already addressing the Corporation’s key business and operational challenges as well as currently undergoing a comprehensive restructuring exercise aimed at repositioning it for efficiency, profitability and value creation for the common good of the Corporation and its stakeholders.

“NNPC restructuring is also on-going. The program intends to restructure the Corporation into value adding autonomous entities in congruency with the overall corporate vision.”

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/05/nigeria-loses-n13bn-oil-theft-vandalism-one-month/

Monday, May 30, 2016

Nigerian Military Averts Attack on Agip Pipeline, Arrests 10 Militants
May 30, 2016
Nigeria ThisDay

 • FG meets ex-militants, agreement reached to end bombings of oil facilities

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

The Nigerian Army said yesterday that it successfully averted planned attacks by militants on oil pipelines in some parts of the Niger Delta.

A statement by the army spokesman, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, said troops of 343 Artillery Regiment of 2 Brigade, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, in the early hours of yesterday, carried out a patrol within the general area of Gulobokri and Eweleso, around Brass in Bayelsa State.

Usman revealed that during the exercise, the patrol team had an encounter with some armed militants in two speedboats who intended to blow up Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s (NAOC) pipeline at Gulobokri.

He said that the suspected vandals opened fire on the patrol team and “the troops responded with overwhelming superior firepower and as a result, the suspected criminals sped off from the area with many of them sustaining gunshot wounds”.

He said that there was no casualty on the part of the patrol team, except an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to the team who sustained gunshot wound.

He disclosed that the victim was evacuated and is in a stable condition.

Usman further disclosed that another patrol team of the same unit of 82 Division Nigerian Army, which was on patrol around Perigbene House Boat (HB), encountered three speedboats suspected to be conveying militants about to attack another critical infrastructure in the area.

He said the troops opened fire on them, killing most of them and injuring others.

“However, the casualty on the militants could not be ascertained as it was raining heavily and the raging storm prevented the troops from pursuing the escaping criminals,” he stated.

Usman said a mop-up operation was organised for the militants that escaped with gunshot wounds and injuries as they may be receiving treatment in neighbouring communities.

With this development, he said troops would continue to intensify patrol in the general area to avert further vandalism or attacks in the area.

In another incident, the commander of the 4 Brigade, Nigerian Army in Benin, Edo State, Brigadier General Farouk Yahaya, confirmed yesterday that 10 suspected members of the Niger Delta Avengers had been arrested.

He said the suspects were arrested because of their links to pipeline bombings and militancy in the Niger Delta region.

General Yahaya, while briefing journalists, said the suspects were arrested during a cordon-and-search exercise conducted in Oporozoa community and its environs in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Residents and various groups in the area had decried the invasion of the community since Saturday and raised the alarm over the alleged intimidation of innocent residents by troops of the Nigerian Army.

A resident, who identified himself as Raphael, said the suspects arrested were innocent people who could not run away fast enough.

He said the soldiers arrested them and labelled them members of the Niger Delta Avengers while other residents took refuge in the bush.

The Niger Delta Avengers is the group that has claimed responsibility for recent attacks on oil and gas pipelines and installations in the Niger Delta.

General Yahaya however said the suspects were arrested for their links to the Niger Delta Avengers, insisting that guns, ammunition and other dangerous items were recovered from them.

He said the operation was conducted professionally in line with the rules of engagement of the Nigerian Army.

The army also restated its commitment to tackling oil facilities’ vandalism in the Niger Delta region.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (rtd), who relocated to the Niger Delta last week to address the rising wave of militancy in the region, has met with repentant militants, during which both sides reached a resolution to end the conflict which has resulted in the destruction of oil and gas assets.

He said the meeting was convened at his instance with the phases one, two, three ex-militants of the Amnesty Programme from Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo States converging on Benin City, the Edo State capital at the weekend.

At the meeting, which lasted over six hours, issues on how to end the attacks on oil and gas installations were discussed at length.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Boroh declared that the recent bombings in the Niger Delta was inflicting pains on Nigerians and hampering the economy.

He said he encouraged the ex-militants to open up on their concerns rather than resort to violence, adding that plans were in top gear to provide welfare and housing schemes for them outside the usual programmes and projects for the Niger Delta region.

He stressed that the current situation in the region had rendered the country impotent.

He explained that the meeting was convened to assure the repentant militants that the Amnesty Programme is their programme and that the bombings affect all Nigerians, whether they were resident in the creeks or outside them.

Boroh, who was optimistic about the meeting, added: “We have all resolved that we will put our heads together to prevent the recurrence of this type of thing.”

He also assured oil companies in the country that the federal government was committed to ending the bombings, saying: “Collectively, we (federal government and militants) have agreed to work as a team to prevent a recurrence. We feel bad that it is happening, it is affecting our economy and it is affecting development and we are very concerned about this.”

Some of the militants who were present affirmed what the presidential adviser said and pledged to support the federal government to bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta.

Since the resumption of attacks in the region, Nigeria’s oil production has been halved. Recent attacks on oil facilities owned by Shell, Agip and Chevron have been blamed on a newly established militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, which has vowed that it would completely halt the country’s oil production unless the government meets its demands.

Last Friday, the group took to Twitter to claim responsibility for an attack on “Nembe 1, 2 and 3 Brass to Bonny Trunk Line belonging to Agip and Shell”. In another Tweet, the group warned that “something big” was about to happen.

Military presence in the area has increased following the attacks. Buhari has accused the group of vandalism and warned that the Nigerian government would deal with it in the same way it is tackling Boko Haram terrorists in the country’s North-east region.

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, however, said Buhari needed to address the underlying causes of the conflict, amid fears a military confrontation could end in “disaster”.

Niger Delta community leader Udengs Eradiri also warned that violence was likely to escalate unless the government “changes its body language”, Reuters reported. Eradiri blamed Buhari for his decision to cut funding for the Amnesty Programme that offered militants money and a job training if they stopped attacks by two-thirds.

“The body language of this administration did not suggest that they wanted a peaceful environment,” he said. “Once the presidency begins to do what is right, they (militants) will be restrained,” he added.
MASSOB Members Protest in Warri
Nigeria ThisDay
May 30, 2016 0 2167

Monday Osayande, Warri

Hundreds of Igbo on Monday stormed Warri, Delta State, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to grant them freedom, saying: “We have met with all the conditions to become a separate country of our own; hence we decided to come out today to ensure that the struggle is achieved”.

The Igbos said duing a peaceful protest in commemoration of the 49th year of the struggle for the actualization of the movement of the Sovereign state of Biafra that the protest was in remembrance of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who initiated the struggle 49 years ago.

The protesters who spoke with newsmen through their leader, Comrade Patrick Agulobi, zonal leader, Delta South, explained: “It is pertinent that we carry out this action to actualize the dream which Chief Ojukwu started 30thMay, 1967. We believed that this laudable dream must not die”.

“A lot of persons have been killed even in some Northern parts of the country we are using this opportunity to plead with president Muhammadu Buhari to call them to order”, Agulobi further said.
Pro-Biafran Activists, Security Agents in Bloody Clashes
30 feared dead in Onitsha, two cops, five others killed in Delta

May 31, 2016
Nigeria Punch

A blocked road in Onitsha, Anambra State, due to the violence ... on Monday. Photo: Biafra Online

No fewer than 30 persons and a soldier were allegedly killed on Monday in Onitsha, the Anambra State capital, after some pro-Biafran protesters, said to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the defunct Biafra republic, engaged soldiers and policemen in a bloody clash.

Leaders of the protesters did not, however, produce the corpses of those said to have been killed by security operatives, but one of our correspondents saw two corpses in Onitsha on Monday.

The late Biafran leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared the secession of the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria on May 30, 1966.

The anniversary of the declaration, however, turned bloody when members of the Indigenous People of Biafra reportedly clashed with security agencies in Onitsha while some members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra clashed with security operatives in Asaba, the Delta State capital, where two policemen were allegedly killed.

On the other hand, The PUNCH gathered that the Joint Security Taskforce arrested the Nnewi South Regional Administrator of MASSOB, Anthony Nwodo.

“Nwodo and 14 others were arrested at the Ezinifite area in the state on their way back home after the observation of the celebration,” an IPOB Leader, Mr. Sunny Chukwuebuka, said on Monday.

IPOB spokesperson, Mr. Emma Powerful, said, “They killed about 25 of our armless members at Nkpor without any cause. They just opened fire on us as we were having a peaceful procession.

“As I speak to you, and from the statistics we have on the ground, 22 of our members were also killed in other parts of the state, just like that.”

According to him, two out of the IPOB members that died met their sudden death at the Niger Bridge head.

“They were coming from Asaba, the Delta State capital, with others to join their Anambra counterparts in the celebration. On getting to the bridge, they met a stiff resistance from the JST and it resulted in a bloody clash and consequently a policeman died while a soldier was stabbed,” he added.

A source in the Press Unit of the Government House said the Governor, Mr. Willie Obiano, had “convened an urgent security meeting to seek ways to curb the crisis before it escalates.” We will issue a statement as soon as we get a directive to do so.”

However, Mr. Emmanuel Omenka, the Personal Assistant to the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike, said, “No amount of killing of Biafra agitators will deter us from fighting to actualise a sovereign state of Biafra.”

The pro-Biafran protesters also took to the street in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Owerri and Calabar.

While some residents claimed that IPOB collaborated with MASSOB on the protests, the MASSOB leadership in Anambra State distanced itself from the clash.

MASSOB leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said in a telephone interview that the organisation was not involved in the protest.

Madu explained that he had earlier issued a statement that this year’s Biafra Day should be celebrated quietly and that all MASSOB members should stay at home.

He, however, condemned the use of firearms against the protesters.

It was gathered that as early as 6am, members of the IPOB protested on the streets, some of them naked.

The pro-Biafran group blocked major streets in Onitsha at the Niger Bridge Head area, forcing most residents to remain indoors.

Markets in Onitsha were also closed as a result of the anniversary that turned bloody.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Alli Okechukwu, confirmed the clash, but declined comments on the number of casualties.

He said, “We are busy clearing the blocked roads in Onitsha to ensure that normalcy returns. We are not counting the number of casualties at the moment.”

The Anambra State Government condemned the IPOB demonstration that culminated in the alleged death of scores of people and a soldier on Monday in Onitsha.

In an announcement by the state Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Chief Tony Nnacheta, the state described the IPOP demonstration as illegal.

It said, “The attention of the Anambra State Government has been drawn to an illegal demonstration by a group of individuals causing anxiety at the Nkpor/Onitsha axis of the state.

“Ndi Anambra are hereby advised to remain calm and vigilant and to go about their lawful business. All should note that there are laws against the disturbance of public peace.”

The Nigerian Army said security agencies intervened in the Onitsha protest due to the “wide spread panic, tension and apprehension” which the activities of the MASSOB and IPOB members generated.

It alleged that the protesters attacked the security agencies, forcing a reaction from them, in a statement by the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations.

Gambo added, “The nature of this attack involved brazen employment of various types of fire arms and all sorts of crude weapons, volatile cocktail such as acid and dynamites.

“In the aftermath of the fire fight that ensued, many of own troops sustained varying degrees of injuries. These injured troops are currently receiving treatment at own medical centre.

“Similarly, five members of MASSOB/IPOB were killed, eight wounded while nine were arrested for due legal actions.”

Also, on Monday, the protest led by persons, said to be members of IPOB in Asaba, led to the death of two policemen after a clash between the agitators and the police in the state capital.

The protesters hit the streets in Asaba and its environs after their efforts to march to the toll gate area of Asaba were resisted by policemen, who sprayed them with tear gas.

The irate members allegedly attacked the policemen who were on patrol, killing two of them.

Some sources claimed that the bodies of the two policemen, one of them a Deputy Superintendent of Police, were dumped into River Niger.

A nurse at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria that some of the injured were brought to the hospital.

An eyewitness, Mr. Uche Okelue, told NAN that the fracas broke out after a police team threw tear gas at the protesters in an effort to disperse them.

“The police used tear gas on the MASSOB people as they were protesting along Anwai Road this morning; so, the people got angry and attacked the policemen with knives and broken bottles.

“They caught one policeman, beat him up before stabbing him to death. It was a fierce confrontation as everyone ran in different directions,” Okelue said.

A policeman, who did not want to be named, alleged that MASSOB members attacked some policemen at the bridge head, overpowering two of them, before throwing them into the river.

The Acting Police Public Relations Officer in Delta State, Charles Mouka, confirmed the death of seven persons, including two policemen.

Mouka said in a statement on Monday 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 MASOB to the police and “are now in custody in Asaba.’’

The PPRO added, “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 the Abraka area of Asaba, the group killed a police corporal and took his AK47 riffle.

“Also along the Dennis Osadebey 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.”

Meanwhile, no fewer than 50 pro-Biafran activists were on Monday arrested by the police in Enugu.

It was learnt that the arrested secessionists were mostly members of the ‘Biafran Independent Movement’ faction of MASSOB.

The agitators were rounded up by police operatives around Edinburgh Street in the Ogui area of Enugu metropolis, where they had gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the defunct Biafra Republic.

Chanting pro-Biafran solidarity songs and hoisting Biafran flags, members of the group brandished placards, some of which read, ‘Biafra has come to stay’, ‘We want Biafra now’, ‘No to Nigerian government’, ‘No going back on Biafra’, and ‘Biafra is our last hope’.

Shortly before the police arrived in the area, one of the leaders of the group, Mr. Eugene Eze, who was among those that were subsequently arrested, explained that the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the defunct Biafra commenced on Sunday with a church service.

Eze said the celebration was organised to honour Biafran soldiers and other heroes, especially the late Ojukwu.

He added, “Since the end of the civil war, no Igbo man has occupied any sensitive position in the country.”

Sources among the secessionists, who did not want their names published, said more than 50 persons were arrested and taken away by the police.

The Enugu State Police Command on Monday confirmed the arrest of some pro-Biafran activists in Enugu.

But the command, in a statement by the state PPRO, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, gave the number of the arrested persons as “no fewer than thirteen”.

He added, “Suspects, in their reactions, maintained that they are members of MASSOB but of Biafran Independent Movement.

“They further stated they were to converge and pray on the spot before embarking on a march with their flags to commemorate their independence.”

In Owerri, no fewer than 21 members of MASSOB were on Monday arrested by the Imo State Police Command.

Addressing journalists at the command’s  headquarters  in Owerri, the state PPRO, Andrew  Enwerem, said protesters were arrested for causing public disorder in the state.

He said though their march was a peaceful one, the police were not informed before the march.

He added, “Any march, no matter how peaceful, without the knowledge of the police, is a breach of the peace. We did not know about the march until we started seeing Biafran flags in the air with over 150 MASSOBians. We arrested them because the march might cause a problem.”

Enwerem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, stated that the protesters were arrested at Tetlow by Okigwe Road, where they were chanting war songs and proclaiming the coming of Republic of Biafra.

In Port Harcourt, 12 members of MASSOB were arrested by the police in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State on Monday.

The MASSOB members were on a peaceful procession on some streets and also along Market Road in Oyigbo when they were accosted and apprehended by a team of policemen.

It was learnt that the security operatives who effected the arrest of the pro-Biafran protesters were from the Counter-Terrorism Unit, Base 3, Port Harcourt.

The Region Administrator, Oyigbo Region of the group, Mr. Sunday Amuzie, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to release the arrested members of the group within 24 hours.

The state PPRO, Mr. Ahmad Muhammad, said 11 suspected members of MASSOB were currently in police custody.

Also, pro-Biafran protesters held a rally in Calabar, calling for the creation of a Biafra republic.

Organisers of the rally, which held on Monday at Ikom in the Cross River State Central Senatorial district, said the agitation was aimed at actualising the dream of the late Ojukwu for the creation of Biafra through non-violent means.

They walked from the Ikom Stadium to the New Okomo Layout axis of the town.

Zonal leader of MASSOB in Cross River State, Mr Samuel Okah, said the rally was in commemoration of the 1967 declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra by then leader, the late Ojukwu, which was not actualised through violent means, but could still come to reality through non-violence.

“Instead of violence, we have decided to change the approach by learning to agitate for the request through roundtable negotiations and dialogue, which are the most effective means of bringing about political and social emancipation. Biafra should be allowed to go its own way since it has come of age,” he said.

Okah added that the fight for the creation of a Biafran state was not only for the people of the South-East as erroneously insinuated, arguing that it would be for those in the South-South region as well.

Story by: Chukwudi Akasike, Ozioma Ubabukoh, Ihuoma Chiedozie, Mudiaga Affe, Tony Okafor,
Ochei Uche, Gibson Achonu and Godwin Udoh
Biafra Anniversary Turns Bloody in Southeast Nigeria
Nigeria National Mirror

The 50th anniversary celebration of the declaration of independent state of Biafra turned bloody yesterday with over 52 members of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, killed across the South East.

Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State recorded the highest casualty figure of 45, according to IPOB, while seven were killed in Asaba, Delta State. Already, tension is high in the region, following the killings.

Our correspondent in Onitsha gathered that a policeman was also killed in the shootout between police. All markets in Onitsha and environs were shut despite the state government’s order on the eve of the celebration that no market should be closed.

The Onitsha clash started at Bridge Head as IPOB members troop out en-mass to join their colleagues in the celebration. It was gathered also that a soldier attached to the 302 Regiment was stabbed.

Nnewi South Regional Administrator of The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Anthony Nwodo and 14 others were arrested by the Joint Security Taskforce at Ezinifite on their way back home after observation of the celebration, according to the Area Administrator of the region, Sonny Chukwuebuka, Two IPOB members were killed at the Niger Bridge Head as they were coming from Asaba, with others to join their Anambra State counterparts for the celebration.

On getting to the Bridge they met a stiff resistance from the JTF and it resulted in a bloody clash and consequently a policeman died while the soldier was stabbed. IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful said 45 members of the group were killed at Nkpor.

“They just opened fire on us as we are having peaceful procession,” he said. Emmanuel Omenka, Personal assistant to MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike, said: “No amount of killing of Biafra agitators will deter us from fighting to actualise a sovereign state of Biafra. “The celebration was a success and this shows that Biafra is strong and firm in its determination.” Also speaking, Ogbaru Regional administrator, Mrs Virginia Ubazuonu condemned the killings and described the celebration as very successful, adding that there is no going back in the actualisation of a Biafra Republic.

In Asaba, seven persons were confirmed dead. Acting Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in Delta State, 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 MASOB to the police and “are now in custody in Asaba.” According to him, the protesters turned violent and attacked 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, FMC, Asaba.

The statement advised parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to follow the part of peace and pursue their agenda constitutionally. Police in Enugu State apprehended over 50 members of MASSOB as well as Biafra Independent Movement, BIM. They were arrested within Edinburgh Road over alleged unlawful assembly as they marched round the state. As early as 7:30 a.m., the group had assembled along zik Avenue and Edinburgh junction roundabout before marching to the adjoining streets.

The group carried placards that read: “Biafra has come to stay”, “We want Biafra now”, “No to Nigeria government again”, “No going back from BiAafra”, Biafra is our last hope.” Speaking to journalists before their arrest, leader of the group and one of the arrested persons, Elder Eugene Eze said the peaceful rally was to celebrate and honour the fallen heroes of Biafra especially, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and others. Eze stated that since the end of the civil war, no Igbo person had occupied sensitive position in the county. He maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s led Federal Government’s policies and programmes had not favoured the Igbo, especially his recent appointment, adding that the best option was to break away from Nigeria for a self-rule.

However, Enugu Police State command spokesperson, Ebere Amaraizu, in a statement said only 13 persons were arrested. He said: “They were rounded up based on intelligence/information gathered on them.

“The suspects, in the morning of 30/5/16 had converged with their bus, one Toyota hiace bus with registration number XG 265 UWN with flags and T-Shirt with different inscriptions portraying MASSOB/BIM at Edinburgh axis of Ogui, to commence protest march before the security operatives acting on intelligence/information closed them up and arrested them.

“Suspects in their reactions maintained that they are members of MASSOB but of Biafran Independent Movement, B.I.M.” Amaraizu recalled that the state command had earlier warned against protest to be carried out by any group of persons under any aegis. In Umuahia, Abia State, 10 MASSOB members were arrested, while one suffered gunshot wound after confrontation with police.

The rally, which commenced at 10 a.m. from Asaba Street, was halted by the police, which resulted in confrontation. State Police Public Relation Officer, PPRO, Onyeke Udeviotu, however said only four persons were arrested, even as he refuted the allegation that one person was shot.

He said police only used tear gas to disperse the crowd. In Ebonyi State, about 320 MASSOB, including some pastors were allegedly arrested. Investigation revealed that the arrested pastors came from different churches and were invited by the group to conduct church service to commemorate the effort and struggle of Chief Ojukwu. Addressing journalists in Abakaliki, Zonal Leader of MASSOB in charge of Ebonyi North, John Nwifuru, alleged that policemen numbering over 200 stormed Nkaliki Primary School, when the church service was going-on and arrested over 320 members of the group.

He alleged that police seized items worth several millions of naira, including plantains, bananas, and other consumables which members brought as their offering during the church service. He further accused the police of carting away over 93 motorcycles and other items for offertory. His word: “We were at Nkaliki primary school field observing inter denominational church service when policemen numbering over 200 operating in over 40 hilux vans stormed the area shooting sporadically in the air before they threw canister tear gas on us and arrested our clergymen, who were conducting church service.

“They carried plantains, bananas, and other consumables which members brought as their offering during the church service” The state Police Commissioner, Peace Abdallah was yet to respond to the alleged arrest at the time of filing this report. In Imo State, the Police Command arrested 17 members of MASSOB for alleged indulgence in illegal and unauthorised procession in demand for the actualisation of a State of Biafra.

The MASSOB members arrested in various parts of Owerri, the state capital were carrying banners with MASSOB/BIM inscriptions. Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Andrew Enwerem, who paraded the protesters at the premises of the state police headquarters, Owerri ,said they not only displayed Biafran flags with caps bearing Biafra insignia, but also chanted Biafran solidarity songs and behaved in a manner capable of breaching peace and tranquility in the state.

Enwerem regretted that while security agencies in the state are doing their best to ensure uninterrupted peace and serene environment, some group of people under the canopy of illegal organisation still indulge in acts likely to frustrate this effort, warning that the police would not hesitate to deal with such culprits. He said they would be charged to court after completing investigation into the matter.

MASSOB members also rallied in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State. The group charged President Buhari to give a listening ear to the cry of the people and allow them to go since all indices point to the fact that Biafra state has come to stay in the minds and hearts of majority of Igbo nation.
Nigerian Military Deploys Fighter Jets in Hunt for Avengers
By Mike Odiegwuon
The Nation, Nigeria
May 31, 2016

There was panic in the creeks of Bayelsa State following sudden presence of fighter jets and surveillance aircrafts which hovered in some coastal communities in search of hideouts of the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).

It was gathered that the military planes were sighted in some the communities in Southern Ijaw where most of the attacks on pipelines and killing of soldiers occurred recently.

A resident from Ondewari, a community in the council, said the sight and sounds of the jets caused tension in the area.

He said some residents were already getting ready to seek refuge in the mangrove following fears of possible bombardments when the jets disappeared.

“We noticed the jets in the morning. They were military jets. We were afraid and most people were thinking of taking cover when suddenly they flew away. We are still afraid that they may come back. We can’t forget the Odi experience”, he said.

But the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) immediately condemned the presence of the fighter jets in the creeks.

The IYC President, Mr. Udens Eradiri, after an emergency meeting of the council, in Yenagoa, said the jets were also sighted in some parts of the state capital and Gbaramatu in Delta State.

He urged the military to apply caution in their operations and warned against the strategy of intimidating Niger Delta residents.

Eradiri said the  crisis would not be resolved by deploying fighter jets adding that intelligence was a better strategy of dealing with the activities of the militants.

He said the council was happy with the President when he said in his May 29 broadcast that he would engage the stakeholders in the region to resolve the crisis.

He said: “Ijaw people are peaceful people. Ijaw people are not avengers. These jets flying around Yenagoa and Gbaramatu, the avengers are not in these places. We just hope that they were just passing. But if it is hovering around, it means that something is about to happen.

“The military should use more of intelligence so that you don’t go around destroying communities. We call on the military to withdraw its tactic of intimidation in Ijaw land.

“Jet fighters will not solve the problem. The economy is in a terrible  forecast and we must do everything to save it. We are at the receiving end of the activities of these militants. Why are we also being intimidated”.

He said the Niger Delta region was not interested in pipeline surveillance insisting that only true federalism would solve the problem in the region.
Bloody Pro-Biafra Protests in Onitsha, Asaba, Others
By Okungbowa Aiwerieon
The Nation, Nigeria
May 31, 2016

Bloody pro-Biafra protests in Onitsha, Asaba, others
Clashes in Aba, Umuahia, Owerri, Abakaliki,  Rivers

The Southeast was on the boil yesterday as pro-Biafra agitators staged protests in major cities to mark the 49th declaration of the state of Biafra by the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

The declaration led to the 1967 Civil War, which  lasted till January 1970. No fewer than two million people died in the 30-month war.

But the recent agitation was given a fillip by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), an organisation propelled by Nnamdi Kanu, who is standing trial for alleged treason.

There were protests or planned protests in capital cities – Owerri, Abakaliki, Umuahia and Enugu.

There were also protests in commercial cities of Aba and Onitsha, where it was fiercest, with a big casualty figure.

Protests were also held in Asaba, the Delta State capital, Port Harcourt, the Rives State capital and Ikom, Cross River State.

In Onitsha, the protesters clashed with a security team of police, soldiers and naval ratings. Five protesters were killed and soldiers injured.

The police confirmed two of their men were killed in Asaba by the violent protesters, who also lost five people.

In Port Harcourt, protesters blocked the East-West Road, which is the major artery of the South, before the police moved in and arrested 13 of them.

A man was shot; 19 were arrested in Umuahia. A clergyman and 320 others were rounded up as they were about to proceed on a protest in Abakaliki.

Twenty-one people were arrested in Owerri and 13 in Enugu. The police foiled the protest in Aba, which has been the boiling point of previous agitations. The rally in Calabar was peaceful.

Seven persons, including two policemen, were confirmed dead in Asaba by police spokesman Charles Muka, a Superintendent.

He said in a statement that five members of the Movement for the Actualisation of theSovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were killed by military men who confronted the group on the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway.

It stated that the military arrested and brought eight members of MASOB to the police and “they are now in custody in Asaba’’.

According to Mr Muka, the protesters attacked the policemen deployed to monitor the protest, killing two and injuring 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 an expectant woman was hit by a stray bullet during the fracas, is receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.

The statement advised parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to follow the path of peace and pursue their agenda constitutionally.

It was gathered that a police patrol van and a military van were vandalised by the protesters at Mammy Market junction on Nnebisi Road.

The trouble started after policemen fired tear gas canisters to stop the protesters around Anwai Road in Asaba metropolis.

The crowd regrouped and attacked a police patrol team stabbing a policeman in the melee that ensued.

Two policemen were reportedly thrown by the protesters into the River Niger. One of them was retrieved and rushed to the FMC. Efforts to recover the other was ongoing as at the time of filing this report.

The rescued policeman had a wound in his navel while he bled from his swollen forehead. He had a bruise on his left leg apparently sustained from the fall into the River.