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Catholic Priest, Five Others Detained On Suspicion Of Biafra Affiliation

Daud Olatunji

In a recent development, Anambra State Police apprehends Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Samuel Aniebonem, and five individuals, over alleged connections to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

 The Anambra State Police Command has made a series of arrests, including a Catholic priest and five others, on suspicion of involvement with the secessionist group, MASSOB. 

The arrests occurred during a police raid on the group’s office in Ifitedunu, Dunukofia Local Government Area, and have sparked concerns over citizens’ rights.

The spokesperson for MASSOB, Mazi Chris Mocha, disclosed this development on September 29, 2023. 

According to Mocha, the arrests took place on September 27 when the police, led by the anti-kidnapping unit, apprehended Rev. Fr. Samuel Aniebonem, who serves at St Patrick’s Cathedral Church in Awka.

 Aniebonem had visited the State Criminal Investigation Department, Awkuzu, to inquire about the arrest of his 87-year-old in-law, Sylvester Dinyelu. Instead of receiving information about Dinyelu’s case, the priest was detained on suspicion of association with MASSOB.

The priest’s driver, Udebunu Anachuna, who accompanied him to the station, was also taken into custody, alongside Christian Ifeji, Johnson Anagor, and Kanayo Madu, all accused of being involved with the group.

Similar incidents have been reported in the Onitsha area, where Mathew Ani was arrested on September 26, allegedly for affiliation with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

MASSOB’s spokesperson, Mocha, has called for an end to these arbitrary arrests, citing violations of citizens’ rights to free association and movement as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. 

Legal action is being taken to secure the release of those detained, including the elderly Sylvester Dinyelu.

Confirming the arrests, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, the Public Relations Officer for the Anambra State Police command, stated that the raid on the group’s office on September 25 yielded incriminating materials suggesting disloyalty to the federal government. The case remains under investigation.

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