The police squad, led by Onitsha Police Area Commander, Mr. Benjamin Wordu, together with two Divisional Police Officers, DPOs of Okpoko and Fegge, Mr. Emeka Ugwu and Rabiu Garba, had on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 burnt down a building at Okpoko Layout which they alleged to be a hideout for proponents of the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB to the astonishment of the residents in the area.
However, the owner of the building who identified himself as Mr. Ikechukwu Agude expressed deep shock on the damage the police operatives had caused to him and his family refuting the accusations of the house being a MASSOB hideout, according to Vanguard reports.
He said, “We don’t have any business with MASSOB members here because they use another building behind ours as their office. I was surprised to hear that our house was set ablaze by the police when I went to work yesterday. My wife went to school because she is a teacher, including my daughter, Onyinye while my first son also went out to his workplace. I have lived in that house since 2006 even before MASSOB came and occupied the house behind mine. That house was the only thing I have in this world, including my family. What has been lost is over N10 million. Governor Willie Obiano should come to our rescue please.”
In reaction to this development, the victim’s counsel named Chris Okoro, said “We understand the governor is cleansing the state but that does not mean setting ablaze people’s property. The suspected MASSOB members involved should be arrested and interrogated to know their mind. The law should be followed to avoid harming the innocent. The entire process of burning houses is wrong”.
Furthermore,Mr. Agude’s first son , Chika, in total devastation said, “I am finished. My whole certificates from my primary to tertiary institutions have all gone. My mother has developed high blood pressure and now she is in hospital.
“MASSOB office is behind our building and they left it and set our own ablaze while we have all gone to work, including my father, who is a driver at Onitsha South Council Area. As it is now, the family has no other alternative place to live as we have been rendered homeless”.
Speaking also in connection to the damage was the victim’s daughter, Onyinye who said, “Our first building was demolished by Power Holding Company of Nigeria in 2011 because they said our house was near the high tension but when my father built it, the high tension was not there. Today, the one he built after the demolition of the other one has also been demolished and this time by the police.”
Moreover, Mazi Chris Mocha, the Personal Assistant to MASSOB Leader, Chief Uwazuruike, dismissed police claims, saying the house was not occupied by MASSOB members but another Igbo Organization known as Igbo Ga-adinma, which was set up by politicians to fight MASSOB”.
A source who claimed to be at the scene of the incident revealed that a gun and some bags of substances believed to be Indian hemp were recovered by the police from the building before they were set ablaze.