One of the survivors of the attack against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the joint personnel of the police and the Department of State Security (DSS) says he had to run into a Catholic church to escape shooting from the security agents during the killing of their members in Emene, Enugu State, last week.
The IPOB member, who witnessed the attack, said he knew 15 persons who were killed that day by the Nigerians security forces.
“They attempted to shoot me,” the IPOB member, who did not want to be named, said. “One of the DSS officials ran after me as I was running into a Catholic church. The reverend father protected me.”
The survivor said contrary to claims by the police and the DSS that the IPOB first attacked the law enforcement agents, the youth only picked up sticks and stones to defend themselves after they were shot at. He said they were unarmed.
However, the security agencies said IPOB attacked them first with sticks that had nails, adding that they had been shot at by IPOP before they reinforced.
The survivor said when the police returned with reinforcements, they began harassing innocent persons in the neighbourhood.
They demanded to know where IPOB members, who escaped from Emene Community Secondary School where they were having a meeting, had run to.
“When they came the second time, they started arresting innocent youths that were not involved, asking where people ran to,” he said.
According to him, security agents had been cracking down on IPOB members since the incident;
“They have been doing house-to-house searches, stopping people on buses, checking peoples’ phones,” he said. “If they see any Biafran symbol on your phone, they will arrest you. People cannot walk on the streets. They have been patrolling everywhere.”
A woman who lives in the neighbourhood where the killings happened in Emene told SaharaReporters that the law enforcement agents appeared to be scared of a protest by IPOB.
“The army guys were wrong. They are the ones who shot first. They set up a roadblock along the Abakaliki Expressway in Enugu. They have been searching any youths they see in transit,” the woman, who is not a member of IPOB but craved anonymity, said.
She said Emene had been calm since the killings. “IPOB guys have never carried arms. They don’t act violently or harass people. Even though they want Biafra, they know they have to maintain the peace,” she said.
IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu who jumped bail in Nigeria and now lives abroad, is seeking the independent state of Biafra that would comprise the territories that were old eastern Nigeria before the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War between 1967 and 1970.
IPOP has endured numerous killings of its members by the Nigerian armed forces as documented by Amnesty International.
Despite not bearing arms or killing people, the Nigerian government branded IPOB a terrorist organisation and outlawed it.