by James Eze,
A visit by the leader of the pro-Biafra group, Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on Monday visit to Abakaliki, brought the Ebonyi state capital to a halt as thousands of residents left their businesses to catch a glimpse of the controversial separatist leader.
Mr. Kanu, who is pushing for an independent Biafran state, is facing treason charges brought against him by the Nigerian government.
He was released on stringent bail conditions in May after about 18 months in detention. Amongst other conditions, the pro-Biafran leader was barred from granting interviews and holding rallies.
Mr. Kanu has gained popularity since his release from detention. Monday was his first official visit to Ebonyi State since his release, and residents eager to see Mr. Kanu, thronged major streets of Abakaliki chanting solidarity songs as his motorcade drove by.
The convoy entered the city via Presco flyover from the Enugu Abakaliki expressway into Ezza Road, causing traffic gridlock for hours.
It then proceeded through Ogoja Road, Afikpo Road back to Ogoja-Abakaliki Expressway, before terminating at Ezenwuba Primary School near mechanic village where he addressed the large crowd.
As the motorcade went along, it grew in length as residents joined with their vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles and on foot.
Police and other security agencies were on hand to escort the crowd to maintain order and forestall break down of law.
Addressing the crowd, Mr. Kanu who was garbed in Jewish regalia, said he was preparing for a bigger visit to the state.
“When next I visit Ebonyi, I promise you I will shut down Ebonyi state. Ebonyi is part of Biafra, let no one tell you otherwise,” he said.
“I will teach our enemies what they don’t know. I will teach them that nobody can stop Biafra because Biafra has come to stay. I will transverse all parts of Biafra land and other areas without anybody stopping me including police and soldiers who are always in the habit of harassing our people.
“I will continue to walk in the midst of these security agents as you can see and nobody will arrest me. They know they can’t stop Biafra. I have come to declare Ebonyi a Biafra state and when next I come, I will shut down the state for three days,” he said.