No fewer than seven persons have been confirmed dead following protest by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), in Asaba on Monday.
The Acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Delta, SP Charles Mouka, who confirmed this in a statement, added that the police recorded two casualties.
Before the Police statement was released, a nurse at the FMC, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed to NAN that some of the injured were brought to the hospital.
An eyewitness, Uche Okelue, told NAN that the fracas between MASSOB protesters and the Police broke out after a police team threw teargas at the marchers in an effort to disperse them.
“The police used teargas on the MASSOB people as they were protesting along Anwai Road this morning, so the people got angry and attacked the policemen with knives and broken bottles.
They caught one policeman, beat him up before stabbing him to death; it was a fierce confrontation as everyone ran in different directions,” Okelue said.
Another eyewitness, Ben Onwordi, told NAN that another fight between the police and MASSOB members at the popular Mammy Market Junction on Nnebisi Road, Asaba.
“As the group were protesting, the police patrol vehicle came behind them and tried to disperse them but the MASSOB people resisted and in the process they clashed and many people were injured.
The MASSOB people damaged the police patrol vehicle, vandalising the windscreen and doors before all of them fled into different directions,” Onwordi said.
NAN further learnt that another clash occurred at the River Niger Bridge on the border between Delta and Anambra states when some MASSOB members tried to conduct a similar rally.
A police source who pleaded anonymity told NAN that MASSOB members had attacked some policemen at the bridge head, overpowering two of them, before throwing them into the river.
“We have been able to retrieve one of them from the river. He was brought out in an unconscious mood and rushed to the hospital, however, the second victim is still missing,” he said.
The Police statement said that five members of MASSOB were killed by military officers who had confrontations with the group along the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway in Asaba.
It stated that the military arrested and brought eight members of MASSOB to the police and “are now in custody in Asaba”.
According to him, the protesters turned violent and attacked the policemen deployed to monitor the protest, killed two and injured two others.
“We had to deploy our officers to ensure that the protest was peaceful but we were surprised that the people turned violent. To our surprise, they started attacking our men and at Okwe Junction in Abraka area of Asaba, the group killed a police corporal and took his AK47 riffle.
Also along the Dennis Osadeby Way in Asaba, they wounded a police officer and took his anti-riot gun. This group also attacked and wounded two policemen, suspected to be marine police, and threw them into the River Niger at Cable Point in Asaba and in the process one died and one was rescued.
This brings the casualty number to two with two others injured on the side of the police. The protesters also attacked military vehicles along the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway which left four members of the group dead and eight others arrested and brought to the police headquarters,” it said.
It added that a pregnant woman was hit by a stray bullet during the fracas but now receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba.
The statement advised parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to follow the part of peace and pursue their agenda constitutionally.