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IPOB disrupts church service, burial in Anambra

Nigerian News Update » Nigerian Newspapers
Sun Newspaper
Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), at the weekend, disrupted a church service in Ekwulobia, in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. The group also interrupted the burial of a civil war veteran in Ihiala Local Government Area.

In Ekwulobia, it was gathered the IPOB members, numbering more than 300, who arrived in five loaded buses, stormed St. Joseph’s Catholic Pro-Cathedral and disrupted church service. In Ihiala, the IPOB members disrupted the burial of the late Pa Francis Oguanobi, a Biafran civil war veteran.
According to eyewitnesses in Ekwulobia, the group invaded the Catholic Church, not minding that the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, commissioners, chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and others chieftains of the party were present.

But, the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, has denied the allegation, saying the people who carried out the act were moblised to create room for security operatives to begin to arrest its members in Ekwulobia and its environs. He said the attack was meant to tarnish the image of the group.
According to one of the congregants at the venue of the disruption, Ikenna Nwoye, when IPOB members stormed the church, chanting anti-government slogans, worshippers scampered.

Another Catholic, Idabo John, who was at the church service, said:  “We went for 9 o’clock service presided by the parish priest, Fr. I.G. Onwuatuegwu. Incidentally, Governor Obiano also attended the church service with his commissioners and other aides. Top members of APGA, including the chairman, Victor Oye, were also there.

“When the holy communion was about to start, members of IPOB stormed the church premises with Biafran flags. Not minding the presence of the governor’s security men and the church’s security personnel, they trooped into the church in full force.
“They had arrived the church’s premises in about five buses, shouting and chanting: ‘Sit at home, no election,’ among others.
Daily Sun gathered that when the situation was getting too intense, Governor Obiano left.
IPOB had vowed that Anambra governorship election scheduled for November 18 would not hold, unless a referendum is conducted for Biafra.
Efforts to reach the Governor Obiano’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr. James Eze, failed. However, Eze’s post on his Facebook wall alluded to the incident.

Eze wrote: “Time to draw the line: IPOB protest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia today (yesterday). The growing popularity of IPOB may soon suffer a setback if the leadership of the organisation does not step up quickly to check the increasing excesses of its members.
“This is because a group of IPOB members stormed the St Joseph Pro-Cathedral Catholic Church Ekwulobia today chanting “No Election” on top of their voices in a bid to press home the group’s position that the Anambra gubernatorial election that has been scheduled for November 18 should not hold.”
Anambra Police Commissioner, Mr. Garba Umar, confirmed the incident, warning that the police would no longer tolerate such impunity.

He alleged that the intension of the protesters was to attack the governor, wondering why they should go to the church to protest.
“You, press people should report this. We will no longer tolerate this impunity from anybody. Why should they protest to the church? The church is a place of worship; and not a place of protest. It is obvious that they had criminal intention to attack the governor.

“The police had to stop them at the gate. If they had dared my men, it would have been a different story. We can’t watch anybody breach public peace in this state. They should be warned to desist from this impunity.”
In a related development, elders of Ihiala community are still in shock over the disruption of the burial of a civil war veteran, Pa Oguanobi by IPOB members.
Pa Oguanobi, who died at 90, was the father in-law of Godwin Ezeemo, Anambra governorship candidate of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) in the November 18 election. The late nonagenarian was one of the prominent Biafrans that sourced for relief materials during the Nigerian Civil War.
Daily Sun gathered that the IPOB members invaded the burial ceremony thinking it was a political rally, in its determination to ensure no election holds in Anambra. The commotion, it was gathered, brought the event to an abrupt end, with sympathisers and mourners fleeing.

Sources alleged that a member of IPOB had snatched the microphone from a musician performing at the burial and slapped the MC when he attempted to stop him.
Chanting, “no election in Anambra State,” the IPOB members took over the arena, forcing mourners to scamper.
Mrs. Nneka Ezeemo, the last daughter of the deceased and wife of Godwin Ezeemo, told Daily Sun she had a similar experience in a community in Ogbaru Local Government recently, when IPOB members also disrupted an event.
She queried: “Is my husband (Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo) now a target for these people that he can no longer hold decent public events without being interrupted rudely by these ones?”

Ezeemo, on his part, appreciated God for saving him and his family from sustaining any physical injury, while decrying a situation where youths are so disenchanted and engaging in civil disobedience.
Meanwhile, Media and Publicity Secretary of the group who absolved the group from such action, said IPOB leaders and members are very intelligent people who cannot involve in any act of violence.

“It is crystal clear to all and sundry that IPOB, under Nnamdi Kanu  remains non-violent in their pursuit for Biafra freedom and cannot change our methods of peaceful approach towards the restoration of Biafra. The election boycott in Anambra in November this year remains, but cannot cause any violence.
“We are aware that some individuals and groups in the society were hired to harass the general public in the name of IPOB members. They printed IPOB  T-shirts and Biafra flags with huge amount of money to be shared to the hungry youths to claim to be IPOB members under Nnamdi Kanu.”
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