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Zik: Ohanaeze absolves MASSOB from blame, calls for probe

Posted by Tajudeen Suleiman, John Ameh and Soni Daniel on 2005/11/09 | Views: 2535 |

Zik: Ohanaeze absolves MASSOB from blame, calls for probe


The Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Tuesday exonorated the Movement for the ActualisatioN of the Sovereign State of Biafra from blame over the burning of the Onitsha residence of the late President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, during Monday’s protest by the group.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Tuesday exonorated the Movement for the ActualisatioN of the Sovereign State of Biafra from blame over the burning of the Onitsha residence of the late President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, during Monday’s protest by the group.

The organisation, however, called for a probe of the incident to unravel those behind it.

Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, Col. Joe Achuzia (rtd), told journalists on Tuesday in Enugu that the group was saddened by the incident.

He blamed it on the carelessness and irresponsibility of security agents, whom he said, failed to protect the premises.

He said, "Ohanaeze is not happy about the burning down of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s house. We strongly believe that MASSOB cannot do such a thing. Ohanaeze is not happy that any group of persons could have the courage to go and set fire on Zik’s property. Zik’s house is a national monument, anybody going about vandalising or damaging it is shooting at the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we are not happy about it."

Azikiwe’s son, Chukwuma, on Tuesday narrated how he escaped death by a whisker when his father’s house was torched.

Clarifying initial speculations that he was out of the house when the clash occurred, Chukwuma, who succeeded Azikiwe as the Owelle of Onitsha, told our correspondents on Tuesday that he was a living witness to the incident.

He said that when there was shooting at the main gate of the house, many people ran into the compound for safety.

According to him, among those who rushed into the compound were the police who were being allegedly pursued by suspected MASSOB members.

He said,"It is difficult to say if I was anybody’s target but I could have been killed in the confusion as people were running all over the place.

"They were looking for the police because apparently they thought they were hiding among those who rushed into the compound."

MASSOB and the Anambra State Police Command on Tuesday, however, continued to trade blame on the torching of Azikiwe’s house.

While the MASSOB Director of Information, Onitsha Province, Mr. Uchenna Madu, stood his grounds that gun shots by the police caused the fire, the Commissioner of Police, Anambras State Command, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu, insisted that MASSOB burnt the house.

Ogbaudu said that riot policemen only went into the compound to help in putting out the fire.

A team of policemen led by a Superintendent, Mr. Patrick Ani, cordoned off the entire compound as at 10.15am on Tuesday.

The Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said that he will discuss with his colleagues in the South-East on how to rehabilitate the building.

Ngige paid a sympathy visit to the family of Azikiwe in Onitsha where he was received by Chukwuma.

Ngige, who described the loss to the arson as huge and "disastrous" , disclosed that he had already directed the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Mr. Olisa Ejikeme, to relocate the occupants of the house and to work a plan on its reconstruction.

The PUNCH, Wednesday, November 09, 2005

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