MASSOB Stages Jega-Must-Go Protest
‘INEC Boss Is Biased’ Uwazurike’s Mission At Variance With Group, Says Factio
EMBATTLED national leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazurike, is setting the tone for the mobilisation of voters for President Jonathan, ahead of this month’s election, as his organisation rallied in the South East for the exit of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega.
At the weekend in Abakaliki, Akwa and Nnewi, Owerri, Umuahia and Enugu, thousands of MASSOB members flooded the streets, bearing placards with inscriptions, like “Jega Must Go”, “With Jega No Election,” chanting slogans and protesting the continued stay of Jega in office.
Explaining the anger against Jega, Uwazurike told The Guardian: “We are organising the protest against Jega because he is biased and cannot conduct a credible election for Nigerians. We know that he is in favour of the All Progressive Congress (APC). And if he is allowed to conduct the elections, he will definitely favour the party. And when that happens, there will be crisis and people will die. The crisis can even lead to a war, and we don’t want bloodshed. We are not hiding the fact that we are supporting President Jonathan because of the burial he gave to our late leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and therefore we are sure that if the election is free and fair, Jonathan would win.”
Tasked on his support for Biafra and the conduct of an election in Nigeria, he said: “The protest was all about Igbo interest.”
Meanwhile, the leaders of the faction of MASSOB led by the National Director of Information, Uchenna Mmadu, and the National Secretary, Emmanuel Ugwuoke, accused Uwazurike of embarking on a mission at variance with the interest of the group.
Mmadu, who accused Uwazuruike of double standards said, he “has commercialised MASSOB and started to dance to the music of politicians. This is unfortunate”.
In Umuahia, MASSOB zonal leader, Mrs. Comfort Ogbuokiri, in company of other leaders, pointed out the peaceful nature of the protest and sued for a peaceful conduct of the election.
The Abia Central chapter of MASSOB also accused Jega of favouring the northern part of the country in the preparations for the election and explained that the protest is to “tell Nigerians and the outside world that we want Jega to be removed, as he works in favour of the North who would not make actualisation of our Republic of Biafra possible. We are not against holding the coming elections, but we are optimistic that Biafra shall be actualised one day”.
In Awka and Nnewi, where the Anambra chapter of MASSOB held rallies, MASSOB members led by Mrs. Virginia Ubazuonu, insisted that the only way to assure the conduct of a credible election is for Jega to leave office. Passing a vote of no confidence on Jega, Mrs. Ubazuonu said MASSOB has good reasons to suspect that Jega would be biased in the presidential election.
She said, “The INEC chairman has compromised to rig the presidential election against President Jonathan, and we are calling for a fresh umpire. We reject Jega totally.”
In Enugu, economic activities were hindered for hours. Hundreds of protesting MASSOB members held up traffic, as they marched through Edinburgh Road, Ziks Avenue and other major streets of the city chanting solidarity songs.
The Ebonyi State chapter of MASSOB hinged its call for the sack of Jega from office on “allegations of sectionalism and incompetence leveled against him.”
The Ebonyi South zonal leader, Mr. John Nwifuru, who faulted the continued stay of Jega in office, stressed that his trying to increase the polling units in the North was an indication that the chairman was pursuing a northern agenda in the general election.
He called for the suspension of the use of the Card Reader, claiming that it would be disastrous for the nation if the devise failed to function.
According to him, “we advise the Federal Government to appoint another chairman who is more nationalistic in approach to avoid anarchy, lawlessness and crisis before or during the elections.
“We call on the Federal Government to relieve Jega of his appointment before the election. He is pursuing a northern agenda and should not remain in office. The government should replace him because this election is very important to the unity and sanctity of the country and everything should be done to ensure its credibility”.
In Imo State, MASSOB members, clad in Biafran military uniforms, led by the zonal leaders from Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, disrupted the flow of traffic, as they marched through major streets.
Stating that the protest became necessary, now that the nation’s peaceful co-existence is threatened by insecurity, they noted, “The insistence of the North that Jega must conduct the election, even when he should be on a terminal leave, shows that they have a skeleton in their cupboard. And this singular act may spell doom for the nation.”