In what appeared to be a repeat of the historic Aba women riot of 1929, some female members of the Indigenous People of Biafra have staged a protest in Abiriba, Abia State, half-dressed.
An 18-minute video posted on Youtube on Friday showed the women barely clad, some with bare chests while others wore undergarments and wrappers as they marched to the house of the Abiriba Community chief to complain about an alleged attack on them by the Nigerian Army.
“We were just holding our national conference meeting and all of a sudden, Army men stormed the venue with 15 Hilux vans and started harassing and pursuing us. They tore our clothes, took four of our members, seized our vehicle and properties as they shot sporadically in the air,” one of the women told the chief in Igbo dialect in the video.
The woman said they assembled from all parts of the South East for the meeting.
“We were holding the meeting inside a compound and not in the street before they invaded,” she added.
Addressing the protesting women, the chief said he would do everything within his power to make sure everything taken from them were returned.
“Everybody has a right to associate with anything or any organisation. It’s a free world,” he said.
Urging the women to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner, he said, “This is a fight that doesn’t require guns but wisdom. We don’t want the Biafra that killed people. I urge you to use diplomacy to follow this struggle.”
IPOB leadership on Friday condemned the attack, and blamed soldiers from the military cantonment at Ohafia, Abia State, for the assault.
IPOB publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, alleged that the Nigeria Police joined the soldiers in the attack.
He noted that some of the women were stripped naked before they were taken to the army barracks at Ohafia.
“The Indigenous People of Biafra and its leadership worldwide condemn the unprofessional conduct of the Nigerian Army located at Ohafia against the Biafran and IPOB women’s general meeting holding in Abiriba, Abia State.
“Food, clothes and accessories belonging to the women were seized by the soldiers and taken to the Ohafia barracks.
“This undemocratic conduct of the Nigeria Army must be condemned by all civilized people and nations. The approach to civil policing adopted by the army makes a mockery of common sense and decency.
“Is it the duty of the army to be going about stripping women naked for no justifiable reason?”
“We further gathered from an eye witness at the conference venue that some of the women who were arrested by the Nigerian Army were totally stripped naked.
“This is the highest form of criminal brutality against Biafrans by security apparatus and we wonder when this crime against humanity and unprofessional conduct of the Nigerian Army will stop.
“We are therefore calling on the women organisations around the globe to condemn and take this abuse of Biafra women by the Nigerian Army to the rest of the world.
“We also call on Queen Elizabeth II of England, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and other notable women, including human rights organisations across the world, to protect the rights of Biafran women from the hands of the Nigerian Army.”
According to PUNCH newspaper, when contacted on the telephone, the deputy director, Army Public Relations of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sagir Musa said he didn’t know anything about the incident.
Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, could not be reached on Saturday. He did not respond to calls and a text message to his phone.