Tension and pandemonium took over different parts of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State yesterday, as soldiers with the Operation Python Dance 2 team clashed with members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The clash left an unconfirmed number of people dead and injured. In Rivers State, at least two persons have been feared dead and several others injured following a clash between men of the Nigerian Army and IPOB members in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The pro-Biafra group also seized three rifles from policemen and burnt a Police van at the junction of Obigbo in the oil-rich state. In Abia, trouble started when some members of IPOB, who left Aba in the morning for Umuahia in solidarity for their leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, over the invasion of his house at Afaraukwu, Umuahia, were alleged to have been stopped by soldiers at Isiala Ngwa junction along the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway.
The IPOB members were allegedly manhandled with some of them being forced to roll inside muddy waters. Many IPOB members, who escaped the soldiers’ wrath at Isiala Ngwa junction, were said to have met another set of soldiers at the Osisioma junction at the outskirts of the city, as they were heading towards Umuahia, leading to a faceoff. The army were said to have shot sporadically as the IPOB members, who were moving towards Ariaria International Market, caused serious uproar as people scampered for safety.
The chaotic state, which enveloped the Osisioma axis, stretched beyond Ariaria Market, to the Flyover Junction, a distance of over eight kilometres, leading to the destruction of some vehicles and death of unconfirmed number of people.
Major markets, trading centres and relaxation places in the city of Aba closed down before 4p.m., creating tension among the residents of the city.
Within the Aba city centre, there was also serious unrest as soldiers cordoned off all roads leading to the Central Mosque on Mosque Street to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation in the city to vandalise the mosque or cause any inter-ethnic crisis. Soldiers, who condoned off the area, shot sporadically to ward off intruders, and people ran for their dear lives, forcing traders to close business for the day and rush home.
The situation was still very tense as at the time of filing the report, but to ease tension, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu declared dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city. Ikpeazu announced the measure following the tension building up over the Operation Python Dance II declared by the army for the South-East. The curfew, according to the governor, would be operational from 6p.m. to 6a.m. for the three days.
The governor, while announcing the curfew at the Government House, Umuahia, yesterday noted that, “Abia State has, for the past few days, been the focus of security searchlight occasioned by the reported skirmish between some groups in the state, especially IPOB with men of the Nigerian Army.
Ikpeazu cautioned that while the government “recognises the right of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, to perform their statutory duty of protection of lives and properties of Nigerian citizens, such duties must be carried out within acclaimed Nigerian and international standards of engagement with the civil populace, with due respect to the human rights of citizens and sanctity of human lives.”
The governor observed that the September 10 confrontation of the army with IPOB members could presumably be attributed to the commencement of the said Operation Python Dance II, saying that Abia, as a component of Nigeria, subscribes to the supremacy of the constitution.
There has been unconfirmed report of clashes from Ubakala junction in Umuahia South Council area to Isialangwa and Aba even as IPOB’s Secretary of Media and Publicity, Emma Powerful, alleged that the army has laid siege to the home of its leader, Kanu, with the purpose of assassinating him.
The tension around Kanu’s home in Afaraukwu has forced shop owners to lock their shops, thereby crippling business activities and free movement of people there. Meanwhile, trouble was said to have started at Obigbo Express when news reached IPOB members who had gathered there that soldiers allegedly ambushed and killed eight of their members at 44 Battalion Asa, Abia State.
The IPOB members were said to have responded to the call made by the group’s second in command, Uche Mefor, who was said to have called in from London, ordering IPOB members to move down to the residence of Kanu in Umuahia. In reaction to Mefor’s call, sources said that IPOB members mobilised and started protesting, with some of them attacking people from Northern extraction they saw on the road.
Some IPOB members also seized three rifles from policemen and burnt a police van at Obigbo junction, forcing business and shop owners to lock up as motorists and commuters ran for dear lives. Some weeks ago, Kanu held a rally at a Catholic church in Timber, which was attended by thousands of IPOB members, causing a total lockdown of businesses in the area and neighbouring communities in the area.
At the Obigbo Express, a Hilux van belonging to the police was burnt, while traders from Northern parts of the country closed their shops and ran for safety, with some of them running to the Obigbo Police Station.
At the popular Nkwo Obigbo Market and Adam Road, people ran helter skelter as gunshots boomed from the Obigbo Express junction, while soldiers mounted at the railway and near Abriba Quarters to provide safety to people of Northern extraction.
Spokesman for 6 Brigade, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, when contacted, said that no soldier was deployed to Obigbo to stop IPOB members from moving to Umuahia, noting that they can only shoot if they are attacked.
Iliyasu said: “I am in Bayelsa now, but people have been calling, telling me that there is a situation in the Obigbo area. But I don’t know exactly where this is happening. But one thing is certain; no soldier was deployed to Obigbo and asked to stop IPOB members from travelling to Umuahia.”
150,000 Nigerian children born with sickle cell disease annually – Don
Prof. Aliyu Babadoko, Consultant Hematologist with the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, said on Tuesday that 150,000 Nigeria children were born with sickle cells disease annually.
Babadoko made the disclosure while presenting a paper during the World Sickle Day celebration at Kaduna State University (KADSSU) main campus in Kaduna.
The don, at the programme jointly organised by Safiyya Sickle Cells Foundation, Sickle Cells Cohost Research (SCORE) and KADSSU, titled his paper: “Journey through the Most Common Genetic Blood Disorder”.
The consultant described sickle cells disease as the most common genetic disease in the world.
He said: “Worldwide 20 to 25 million people have sickle cells disease, while 12 to 15 million are in Sub Saharan Africa and 300,000 are born with the disease worldwide annually.
“Of the total number, Nigeria accounts for 150,000 and about 2-3 per cent of Nigerians have sickle cells disease.
“Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s sickle cells disease population live in Nigeria, India and Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.
He said that Africa had the highest rate of sickle cells disease in the world and equally had the highest rate of malaria.
In his speech, the Vice-Chancellor, KADSSU, Prof. Mohammed Tanko, said the knowledge and challenges about sickle cells disease was neglected over the years.
Tanko lamented that people, especially in Nigeria, blindly fell in love without knowing their blood genotypes, which to some extent resulted in giving birth to children with sickle cells anaemia.
He lauded the efforts of the organisers of the event and urged them to sustain the tempo, describing it as educative, informative and encouraging.
NAN reports that the programme drew hundreds of sickle cells patients from within and outside Kaduna as well as many experts in the field. (NAN)
Wizkid’s runway image sells for N179,889 online
Each image of Wizkid walking the runway for Dolce & Gabbana on Saturday at the Milan Men’s Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 has been put up online for sale by a photo company for $499 (N179,889).
On Getty Images website, photos of the singer included a long shot, his back view, as well as a close shot.
All the pictures were each priced at $499, but there is a tab that can supposedly let the buyer get it for $450 apiece.
Since the photographs popped up online, Nigerians have expressed their views about the price tags.
Police nab suspected gun runner in Bayelsa
The Police Command in Bayelsa said on Tuesday that it had arrested a suspected gun runner who sold an AK 47 riffle for N500,000 and a Berrata pistol for N250,000.
DSP Asinim Butswat, Spokesperson of the command, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa that the suspect was arrested in a sting operation on June 16 at a hotel in Ekenfa 3, Yenagoa.
Butswat said that the operation was in furtherance of the directive by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to police commands to mop up arms and ammunition from unauthorised persons.
He said that the police recovered one AK47 rifle and two Barreta pistols from the suspects who sourced the arms from the Republic of Cameroon.
He said police detectives lured the suspected notorious gun runner, who hails from Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state, under the guise of purchasing arms from him.
The spokesperson told NAN that the suspected gun runner was arrested with a 34-year-old man from Oboro Town in Delta, who usually introduced him to buyers.
“The suspect confessed that he usually travelled to the Republic of Cameroon to buy arms and ammunition in a community called Okwa, a border town with Bakassi Peninsula.
“He also admitted that he sells an AK 47 riffle for N550,000 and Berratta pistol for N250,000 in Nigeria,” Butswat said.
The police spokesperson said that efforts were underway to recover some of the guns the suspect earlier sold and arrest the buyers.
He also appealed to members of the public to provide to the police useful information that might lead to the recovery of arms from unauthorised persons. (NAN)
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