Catholic priest, 5 others detained by police over alleged membership of Biafra group

A Catholic Priest, Reverend Father Aniebonem and five other people have been detained by the Anambra State Police Command for allegedly belonging members of a pro-Biafra group, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports from Awka on Friday that the information was contained in a press release to journalists by Mazi Chris Mocha, Director of Information, MASSOB.

The statement indicated that Aniebonem and five others were arrested on Wednesday, September 27, by the anti-kidnapping unit of the Nigeria police at Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area (LGA), Anambra.

Mocha said that three persons had earlier been arrested when the police raided the group’s office along Awkuzu/Otuocha road, Ifitedunu, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, on Monday, 25 September.

The statement noted that Aniebonem, who works at St Patrick’s Cathedral Church, Awka, hails from Ifitedunu town, and got involved when he visited the State Criminal Investigation Department, Awkuzu, on account of his in-law.

Mocha said that the priest had gone for Chief Sylvester Dinyelu, his 87-year-old in-law who was arrested by the police to seek the reason behind his arrest and possibly secure his release considering his age.

He said instead of briefing the priest on reasons for Dinyelu’s arrest, the police arrested the Reverend Father on the suspicion that he too might be a member of the movement.

Udebunu Anachuna, the driver of the priest who drove him to the station, was equally arrested alongside Christian Ifeji, Johnson Anagor and Kanayo Madu on the same allegation.

Mocha said that a similar development occurred in Onitsha when one Mathew Ani was also arrested on Tuesday, September 26, on an allegation of belonging to the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB).

He said that the random arrests by police need to be checked as their actions are against the principles of the right of free association and movement of the citizens as contained in the Nigerian constitutions as amended.

“We have just engaged the services of our lawyer to ensure the early release of the men, including the 87-year-old man,” Mocha said.

The Police Command Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in Anambra, Tochukwu Ikenga (DSP), confirmed the arrest and detention when contacted.

“Our operatives working on reliable information, raided their office along Oyeagu Ifitedunu road on Monday, September 25.”

He said that a lot of incriminating items and unpatriotic materials showing the movement’s disloyalty to the Federal government were found there.

“Temporarily, the case is still under investigation as I talk to you,” he further disclosed.

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