Ndigbo Unity Forum has appealed to the Federal Government to urgently check the excesses of members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra in Onitsha, Anambra State.
In a press statement in Onitsha on Thursday, the President and Secretary-General of the Forum, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum and Mr. Chinedu Onyebuchi, respectively lamented the hardship to which MASSOB operatives in Onitsha had subjected law-abiding residents.
But MASSOB’s Director of Information, Mr. Uchenna Madu, denied the NUF allegation. Madu told our correspondent that MASSOB was not involved in any extortion of citizens in Onitsha or any other part of Nigeria.
“We don’t condone any criminal act or activities that could tarnish our good image,” Madu said.
NUF listed the alleged criminal activities of MASSOB to include “illegal collection of levy and extorting of money from law abiding citizens on Street Markets and other surrounding Street; Sokoto Road, Pam-Pam Lane, Haruna Street, Nottidge Street, Ezeolisa Street, Otumoye Street, Creek Road, Bida Road, Kano Street, Moore Street, and Venn Road North,” among several others.
The Forum said the MASSOB members were also engaged in molesting and torturing innocent citizens who failed to comply with their illegal directives “to the extent that traders in various markets in Onitsha go about their lawful business under perpetual fear.”
The statement added, “This group (MASSOB) also through intimidation, molesting and torturing has succeeded in scaring away customers that used to come from far and wide to patronise the market. This trend has caused untold hardship to the traders.
“This group which also carries arms and different types of weapon also is involved in the mounting of illegal road blocks and collecting of money from drivers and passengers by force.”
The NUF therefore demanded that the Federal Government, through the relevant security agencies, should tackle the situation urgently because it feared that MASSOB was operating with the blessing of some government officials in the state.
It added that failure to check the excesses of the MASSOB operatives might throw up a social crisis in the city that would make the crisis in the North a child’s play.