IG deploys extra police to South East after Biafra protests
The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, on Wednesday ordered reinforcements to the southeast, after protests by pro-Biafran groups and an apparent attempt to blockade a key bridge in the region.
Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase said he had ordered the deployment of extra officers “to reinforce security” in areas where demonstrations were occurring.
Local commanders have been instructed to prevent or disrupt “any gathering that threatens public order and national cohesion”, he said in an emailed statement, adding that anyone arrested would “face the full wrath of the law”.
Recent weeks have seen a wave of protests from groups supporting a separate state of Biafra in the southeast, 45 years after the end of a civil war sparked by a previous declaration of independence.
On Tuesday, Arase said protesters attempted to block the strategic bridge across the Niger river, which links the southeast with the rest of the country.
The bridge was the de facto border during the 1967-1970 civil war.
Armed soldiers and police were on Wednesday patrolling the city of Onitsha, at one end of the bridge, and markets and businesses were closed, locals said.
The protests were sparked by the arrest in October of the London-based Radio Biafra director Nnamdi Kanu, who is also the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) pressure group.
Supporters have taken to the streets in their tens of thousands to demand his release and voice their calls for a breakaway state.
Kanu has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy and intimidation and belonging to a banned organisation.
His lawyer said after a court hearing in Abuja last month his client was also being investigated for “terrorism and terrorism financing”.
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