1st September, 2011
It was jubilation galore as the leader of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and 280 others were this afternoon released from the Enugu prisons after eight days in jail.
They were freed after Chief Magistrate Dennis Eko considered their application for bail at the Enugu North Magisteriat Court.
Their release also followed the withdrawal of the case No. MEN\545C 2011, Commissioner of Police vs Ralph Uwazuruike and 280 others by the state Director for Public Prosecution, DPP, Emeribe Victor Chukwudi.
The court started sitting by 1.15 p.m. They were facing a count charge.
Count oneread: that you Ralph Uwazuruike and 280 others on the 24th day of August, 2011 at Presidential Hotel Enugu, in the Enugu North Magisterial district did unlawfully conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: treasonable felony and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Cap.C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004â€™â€™.
Count two: “that on the same date and place in the aforesaid magisterial district being members of the illegal organization Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra [MASSOB] did form an intention to remove the Governor of Enugu State and Governors of other Eastern states of Nigeria during their terms of office otherwise than by constitutional means and thereby committed an offence punishable by section 41[b] of the Criminal code Cap.C38, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
Count three: “that on the same date and place in the aforesaid magisterial district did form and become members of an unlawful society to wit: Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra [MASSOB] and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 64[a] of the Criminal code Cap. C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
Count four: “that on the same date and place in the aforesaid magisterial district while in a public place did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace by putting on military uniform and flying flags of the proscribed Republic of Biafra and thereby committed an offence under section 249[d] of the Criminal code laws of federation of Nigeria.”
Responding after the case was withdrawn, defence counsel led by Messrs C.O.Z. Obiekwe and Mazi Chinemelu Okolo, noted the wrong charges the police brought against MASSOB members saying, “the police should learn how not to disgrace this countryâ€™â€™.
Speaking to newsmen after their release, Uwazuruike stated that he knew they did not commit any offence, saying no amount of intimidation will deter him from his non violence struggle.
The released members and well-wishers who went to the court to receive them chanted songs of victory and determination.
The Enugu police command arrested MASSOB members inside Federation Hall of the Presidential Hotel, Enugu for merely wearing blue uniforms.
They had come to honour their leader Chief Ralph Uwazuruike who was honoured that day along side ailing former Biafran Head of State, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu among other prominent Igbo leaders.
By George Orji/Enugu