THERE was outrage yesterday over the discovery of bombs that were planted in the Living Faith Church, popularly called the Winners’ Chapel, in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra warnied terrorists to stay off the Southeast and threatened to “bring down” Nigeria should any part of the Southeast be bombed.
Six suspects are being held for the explosives. The motive of the planned bombing and its planners remain unknown.
MASSOB leader Ralph Uwazuruike, who spoke in a telephone interview with The Nation, warned that his group would no longer tolerate the mindless killing of Ndigbo in any part of the country.
According to him, the movement would “retaliate with equal and decisive force if terrorists attack any city in the zone”.
His words: “The position of MASSOB on this matter is firm. We will bring down Nigeria, if any bomb goes off in the Southeast. We can no longer tolerate the mindless killing of Ndigbo in any part of Nigeria because we will retaliate with equal force against any attack on any part of Igboland.”
The group also warned against what it described as the deliberate posting of military, police, Customs and Immigration officers, who are Igbo, to the Northeast to confront the Boko Haram insurgents.
It alleged that their counterparts from the North were being posted to the Southeast for safety. But MASSOB did not support its stand with figures.
MASSOB claimed that such a measure was part of the grand plan of the pre-Nigerian civil war agenda to totally annihilate Igbo officers and men in the nation’s military by the powers that be.
The Director General of the Organisation of Biafra Music and Film Authority (OBMFA), Evang. David Eboson, in an interview, said the organisation was concerned with the way Boko Haram insurgents had been killing innocent Nigerians, including Igbo soldiers in the North, especially in the last three months.
Eboson, who described the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents as a sign of God’s anger against Nigeria, said it was high time Nigeria let Biafra exist as a sovereign state.
He said the convocation of the National Conference by the Federal Government was deceitful and was not going to serve any useful purpose so far Ndigbo remains part of Nigeria.
“The Federal Government is deceiving the public with the National Conference because it is a moonlight play. The problems of Nigeria would only be solved if the Igbo are allowed to go and serve their Lord,” Eboson said.
The Imo State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Campaign for Democracy (CD) has condemned the foiled terrorist attack.
Speaking during a solidarity visit to the Winners’ Chapel, where Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) were discovered, the state Chairman of the party, Sir Nnamdi Anyaehie, observed that if the terrorists had succeeded with their plot, it could have had a devastating effect on the state.
He pointed out that “in the last few months, the PDP had raised the alarm over looming security threat in the state following infiltration by strange-looking aliens, but it was dismissed as a political statement”. “But with this discovery, we have been exonerated.”
The PDP Chairman, who was accompanied by the State Secretary of the party, Chief George Eguh and the Publicity Secretary, Enyinnaya Onuegbu, called on security operatives to ensure that those behind the dastardly act are brought to book”.
Also condemning the averted attack, the Southeast Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dede Uzor A. Uzor, urged security operatives in the Southeast to take proactive measures to protect lives and properties in the zone.
He said: “Security agencies in the zone should step up measures to arrest the new security challenge because it is now obvious that the terrorists have crept into the Southeast.”
Also yesterday, the governors of the Southeast were urged to initiate a free comprehensive biometric registration scheme for all residents.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) made the call yesterday in a statement condemning the failed bomb attack. HURIWA also canvassed an investigation into a statement credited to the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, that insurgents would extend their bombing campaign.
The National Coordinator of the body, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said the comment should be probed to ascertain whether the Sunday bomb attempt has any connection with it.
It also called on politicians to be circumspect with their public statements on the ongoing insurgency to avoid providing psychological boost for the terrorists.
The political leadership of the Southeast, especially the governors, local council chairmen and traditional rulers were also advised to always stay in their jurisdictions, fashion out counter-terrorism measures and mobilise their wards and others to stave off possible infiltration by terrorists.
“The Houses of Assembly of the Southeast states should make binding legislations to compel the governors to spend at least 85 per cent of the entire tenure provided under the extant constitution within their states and only travel when it is absolutely necessary to so do for the public interest of the people,” HURIWA said.
It also urged prominent investors and business owners based in the Southeast to work out fool-proof security measures to prevent any possible bomb attacks. The group demanded the setting up of youth-led volunteer groups in the Southeast to monitor “strange movements” and to enlighten the populace on ways and means of remaining ahead of terrorists.
The police on Sunday in Owerri uncovered the IEDs at the church’s auditorium and the car park.
The bombs were believed to have been planted by suspected terrorists. The discovery prompted the bomb disposal unit of the police to shut the church and order worshippers to relocate to another place for the Sunday service. Police spokesman Andrew Enwerem said the IEDs were discovered by their men following a tip-off by the security guards attached to the church.
Enwerem said the explosives were already primed and could have detonated during the service, but for the Bomb Disposal Unit officers, who removed the IEDs and defused them.
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