A policeman was killed and 32 pro-Biafra supporters arrested following violent demonstrations in Rivers State, southern Nigeria, police said on Thursday.
“A police sergeant attached to the anti-riot unit in the Oyigbo district of Port Harcourt was killed yesterday (Wednesday) by alleged members of the IPOB (Independence Movement for Indigenous Peoples of Biafra) have seized his weapon, “the spokesman for the Rivers police, Nnamdi Omoni told AFP.
Several policemen were also injured and a police van burned during the incident which also left several policemen injured. “Nine suspects” were arrested in the wake, he said.
According to the spokesman, another attack occurred Tuesday at the police school in Port Harcourt, causing several wounded in the police ranks. Twenty-three people were arrested in connection with the case.
In total, “32 suspects” have been placed in pre-trial detention for the past two days and “will be brought before the courts after an investigation,” he said.
The governor of the neighboring state of Abia also imposed a three-day night curfew on Tuesday after rising tensions in recent days.
Violent clashes between law enforcement and IPOB members demanded the independence of Biafra, a region with a large igbo majority. IPOB said five of its supporters had been killed in the clashes, which the army refuted.
On Thursday morning, a police station was also set on fire in Aba, the economic center of the state of Abia, causing a wounded in the district of Ariara.
“The police station was set on fire early this morning, between six and seven o’clock, by unknown persons. A policeman was injured,” AFP spokesman Abia State police spokesman , Geofrey Ogbonna.
“We are investigating the incident but no arrests have taken place,” he said, adding that calm had returned and that everything was “under control” at the end of the morning.
“Army and police are everywhere, they are looking for pro-Biafra house by house,” said a local official of another pro-Biafra movement, the Massob, Anayochukwu Okpara.
“We have heard many shots during the night and now there is no movement in the city, even the international market of Ariara is closed,” he said.
A video was also circulating on social networks since Wednesday, showing alleged military punishing and humiliating IPOB supporters bare-chested by forcing them to crawl into the mud and drink on the floor. The place and date were not indicated.
The army announced Thursday in a statement that it was going to investigate this video, saying that any soldier guilty of breaking the code of conduct will have to answer for his actions before the military justice.
Reporters Without Borders also accused the military on Tuesday of having broken into the premises of a press union in Umuahia, the capital of Abia state, brutalizing journalists and confiscating their equipment.
The leader of the IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, is prosecuted for treason and attack on the security of the State. He is currently on bail pending the start of his trial in Abuja, which is expected to take place next month.
He was released on bail at the end of April, but his 18 months of detention – during which he did not hesitate to harangue the crowds and build his base of popular support – fueled anger and exclusion from the Biafra.