The police in Imo State on Wednesday arrested 67 persons, suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and a native doctor, for alleged unlawful assembly.
The state commissioner of police, Isaac Akinmoyede, stated this in Owerri, the state capital.
Mr Akinmoyede said the people were arrested in Orji, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state on Sunday.
He said they were on their way to see the native doctor to fortify them against bullet penetration when they were arrested.
“It is believed that the group is planning an attack on security agencies with the aim of snatching weapons,” he added.
He alleged that the native doctor had before removed bullets from a suspected IPOB member who had gunshot injuries.
“It is also noteworthy that the group attacked and snatched two rifles from police during a violent protest in 2018, of which the rifles were later recovered from a kidnap gang in a robbery operation.”
The police boss said the suspected IPOB members were intercepted by soldiers of the 34 Field Artillery Brigade while on duty at Mmahu Egbema checkpoint who then called for reinforcement from the Divisional Police Headquarters, Egbema.
He said that officers from the division moved swiftly to the scene and assisted in the evacuation of the suspects to the divisional police headquarters for further action.
“It will be recalled that this organisation (IPOB) has been proscribed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, as such, any such gathering by the group is viewed as unlawful. They will be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded.”
But IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, in a reaction to the incident, warned Nigeria government and security agencies to stop hunting IPOB members.
“We are warning Nigeria government and her security agencies to allow IPOB because we are peaceful in all our activities since the formation of this noble movement to liberate our people.
“Nigeria security operatives are deriving joy in arresting and slaughtering IPOB family members since 2015 while their brothers terrorists herdsmen and their Boko Haram counterparts are busy causing mayhem throughout Nigeria without security officers stopping them.
“We are calling on Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State to instruct his country’s security to release our members before it is late. Nigeria government and her army of terrorists have been looking for our trouble and they must get it when we are ready. At the appropriate time they will regret their actions against IPOB members,” he said.