Biafra Day Celebration: Soldiers, Police Beat Up Punch-Man

Mr Emeka Ihiegbulem

The Imo State correspondent of The PUNCH, Emeka Ihiegbulem, was on Tuesday beaten up by the men of the Nigeria Police Force, soldiers and other security agencies during the 18th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), founded by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike.

His identity card, recorder and jotter were also seized by the overzealous security men.

Members of MASSOB and BIM had on Tuesday staged a rally at old Ogbosisi (Timber market) on Tetlow Road, Owerri, to celebrate the anniversary.

It was gathered that the PUNCHman was interviewing some members of the organisations when policemen and soldiers surrounded the area and ordered everybody to sit on the floor.

He said, “I sat down with the members and brought out my identity card and my recorder to tell the officers that I am a journalist on an assignment and I am not a member.

“They ignored me and marched me along with MASSOB members into a waiting vehicle to the state police headquarters.”

Ihiegbulem said at the headquarters, a policeman snatched the ID card, recorder and jotter from him when he refused to hang the Biafran flag on his shoulder as ordered by a soldier.

He said he was “mercilessly beaten,” adding that a club was used on his head.

“My reprieve came when the commander of MOPOL 18, who knows me singled me out among the arrested MASSOB members,” the PUNCHman said.

He stated that he was taken to a nearby pharmacy, adding that the seized items had yet to be returned to him.

The Commissioner of Police, Dasuki Galadechi, told our correspondent to send him a text message on the incident, which was done.