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After 16 years of struggling to actualize the sovereign state of Biafra with a the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, the leader of the group, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike on Sunday said the group has metamorphosed to Biafra Independent Movement, BIM.
This followed last week’s coup that removed Uwazuruike as the MASSOB leader and replaced him with the group’s former National Director of Information, Uchenna Madu while Ugwuoke Ibem Ugwuoke, emerged as National Secretary.
This was even as MASSOB at the ceremony, warned Uwazuruike “to stop parading himself as MASSOB leader or using Ojukwu’s name to dupe Ndigbo or garner personal fame to pursue his political ambition.”
But, speaking at a briefing on Sunday Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the founder of MASSOB, said the decision to change the name was in-line with the group’s agenda to get independence of Biafra.
According to him, “the agitation for the independence of Biafra state is gradually getting to a referendum stage and as such, MASSOB cannot be the suitable platform to actualize the aim of the movement’’, he said.
Uwazuruike who spoke during the conference of MASSOB in Owerri also apologized to the people of South-East and South-South affected by the violence due to the recent protest by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
“No faction of MASSOB was directly or indirectly involved in the recent protest that took place in the South-East and South-South as erroneously reported in the media.
“The connection of MASSOB with the protest was that some of the people involved were expelled members of MASSOB and based on that we render unreserved apology to those affected ‘’, he said.
Uwazuruike who specifically apologized to the Hausa community and traders whose shops and goods were damaged during the protest added, “as a non-violent movement, MASSOB cannot do things that will adversely affect means of livelihood of the people.
The leader of MASSOB who now preferred to be addressed as Biafra leader used the medium to call on the federal government to unconditionally release the detained ex-director of Biafra radio Nnamdi Kanu.
“Kanu obviously may have erred by being violent against the principle of non-violent which MASSOB, sand for, but we appeal to the federal government to release him and other detained MASSOB members’’, he said.
Uwazuruike who condemned the act of blocking the Niger Bridge and forcing traders to close shops by the organizers of the protests the rocked the South-east, urged Igbo people to continue to keep faith with the agitators of Biafra.
“We are closing in on the time to get freedom for our people because referendum would soon be actualized and all that we are craving for is for support of the Igbos wherever they are ’’, he said.
Chief Uche Okwukwu, a leader of the group from Rivers who also spoke stressed the need for the Nigerian government to convoke a referendum for Biafra to decide whether the Biafran want to remain or leave Nigeria.
“South-East is the only zone with five states, 15 senators, others all have six states and 18 senators, and the people are greatly short changed’’, he said.
Okwukwu said there was the urgent need to right the wrong so as to nip all the problems that is causing ill-feeling in the country.