Saturday, 16 January 2010

Photonews: Horrors Of Haiti

News Report: Nigerian separatist leader detained ahead of poll

                               [Ralph Uwazuruike]

Nigerian police have arrested the leader of a banned Biafran separatist group ahead of a governorship poll in the south-eastern state of Anambra next month, the group's spokesman said Friday.

"Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State for Biafra (MASSOB) has been in police custody in Owerri since Tuesday," Madu Uchenna told AFP.

A police spokesman said Uwazuruike was being held following a petition by an individual, Pascal Okorie, who accusing the MASSOB leader of kidnapping him.

Uchenna said Okorie was using the name of MASSOB to disrupt the February 6 governorship election in Anambra State and Uwazuruike tried to stop him by keeping him in his house.

He said MASSOB was founded in 1999 to revive the idea of an independent Igbo homeland and to carry out a non-violent campaign for self-determination. The movement was neutral in the February poll, he added.
"We did not want to be involved in the election and therefore decided to prevent any individual or group from tarnishing the good name of MASSOB," he said. Uchenna said Uwazuruike would soon be released following "useful discussions with the police".

The MASSOB leader was acquitted of a treason charge in 2008 after spending three years in jail for leading the group, which was outlawed.

MASSOB accuses the federal government of marginalising and neglecting Igbos and of excluding their leaders from national institutions.

The Igbo are one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. Igbo separatists seceded in 1967, forming a mini-state of Biafra, a move that plunged the nation into a 30-month long civil war which claimed more than one million lives, mostly due to disease and starvation.

The war ended in January 1970 with the surrender of the Biafra forces.

(From AFP)