a-4716 (ACC-NGA-4716)

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MASSOB demonstrations in Okigne town, May-June 2005

Among the sources consulted by ACCORD no specific information could be found on a demonstration by MASSOB in Okigne (Okigwe) from May to June 2005. There were, however, reports of other MASSOB-demonstrations in this period of time. Additionally, according to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, MASSOB celebrated its “fifth Freedom Anniversary” on 21 May 2005 (no further details on the celebrations are given) (Vanguard, 21 May 2005).

Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reports in May 2005 that 80 suspected Biafra separatists were arrested at the venue of a rally in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State (see also This Day, 8 May 2005; BBC, 9 May 2005):

“SOME 80 suspected `Biafra Republic separatists’, including women, were on Monday formally charged with treason and conspiracy at a court in Abakaliki, capital of south eastern Ebonyi State, a police spokesman said. [...]
The suspects, members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), were arrested Sunday when they arrived at a venue for a rally in the centre of the city, he said. [...]
It was reported Monday that suspected MASSOB members from all states in the southeast region were arrested. Since the beginning of this year, security agents have launched a serious crackdown on members of MASSOB, an organisation outlawed by government.” (Vanguard, 10 May 2005)

According to UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), 126 people were arrested at the rally called by MASSOB, police confirming only 80 arrests:

“Described as a Christian revival meeting, the Sunday rally in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state, was called by the outlawed Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and featured preachers who prophesised the secession of south-eastern Nigeria and urged the audience of hundreds of people to fight for a separate state, the sources said.
But while the rally was underway, truckloads of policemen swooped on the venue firing tear gas into the meeting hall and shooting into the air, witnesses said.
`They arrested 126 people while 42 others escaped arrest with injuries. No one was killed,’ Uche Madu, a spokesman for MASSOB who was at the rally, told IRIN. [...]
Ebonyi state police commissioner Paul Ifeghoghi confirmed that arrests had been made at the rally, but said only 80 people were detained and charged on Monday for treason, conspiracy and illegal assembly. [...]
Human rights groups say that dozens of pro-Biafran activists have been killed over the last six years for campaigning for such beliefs and more than 300 are currently in detention after being arrested by the police at marches and rallies organised by MASSOB.” (IRIN, 10 May 2005)

According to an article by Nigerian newspaper Daily Champion, MASSOB criticised the Nigerian Federal Government in May 2005 for allegedly planning to assassinate key members of the group (Daily Champion, 17 May 2005).

According to an article by Biafra Nigeria World news (BNW) of June 2005, MASSOB members recalled the 2003 Okigwe police raid which allegedly led to the death of over 68 members. The article does not clearly mention demonstrations, but states:

“The MASSOB members have recalled the incident, which they claimed, led to the death of well over 68 of its members, leaving about 45 seriously wounded. [...]
They had earlier lodged their protest against further maltreatment and killing of MASSOB members.” (BNW, 9 June 2005)

Religious structures, ethnic & religious conflicts

We are at the moment only able to provide a short overview on this topic due to time constraints and the scope of the topic:

Onlinenigeria.com: ABIA - Ethnic Composition, Language and Culture, 1 September 2003

“Ethnic Composition, Language and Culture:
Abia State is inhabited by the lgbo. The lgbo language is spoken throughout the State, Abia State is richly endowed culturally. This is evident in the to people’s mode of dressing, dancing, arts and crafts, as well as festivals and the widely known lgbo traditional hospitality. The traditional apparel for the men is an over-flowing jumper or long-sleeve shirt worn over a "George" wrapper tied around the waist and flowing down to the ankles. This dress is complemented with a cap and a walking stick for support and defence. For the women, the traditional wear is a blouse over an "Abada" or "George", around the waist. This outfit goes with a headgear, ba earrings and necklace. [...]
The people of Abia State are pre-dominantly Christians of different denominations There are also a good number of Muslims, with adherents of the two religions living together peacefully.
Some people in the state are animists, who believe in a Being called "Chukwu." The traditional worshippers believes in the ability of deities to exercise strong influence on the destiny of man.”

For details on ethnic & religious conflicts/sectarian violence, please see the following reports (inside the reports, search for “Abia”, “sectarian”, “ethnic”, etc.):

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the ACCORD within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


MASSOB demonstrations in Okigne town, May-June 2005

Religious structures, ethnic & religious conflicts