Thursday, August 16, 2007

Clashes between police and MASSOB fighters in Onitsha have resulted in the death of over 20 people. The police descended on Enenchele Island on Wednesday, which is populated by MASSOB members. This is an increase in the body count as last week Tuesday, 10 people were killed in clashes between police officers and MASSOB members. It seems that the government is stepping up their initiative to find MASSOB's leader and put a stop to the organization.

However, MASSOB's leadership denies the allegations of kidnapping and its regional administrator for Onitsha declared that anyone involved in such activity should be and would be punished. He claimed that MASSOB is committed to non-violent achievement of its goals.

Femme reacted to my last MASSOB post with shock at the allegations that the organization was kidnapping. Her shock might just be warranted. She also noted "secessionists being tried is a bit extremist. its only another opinion as long as its peaceful.sounds like a contradiction but its been known to happen."

Her comment raises a good issue - should secessionists be tried and sent to prison? I understand that calls for a separate homeland can be peaceful, as she clearly states. But, unfortunately, I cannot help but think about the Biafran war and the fact that, at this moment, Nigeria is a complex pressure cooker - possibly ready to pop if the lid is opened too quickly. All measures MUST be taken to keep violence to a minimum and anyone that could possibly encourage such violence will probably get muffled. That raises concern about freedom of expression and civil rights. which I cannot get into at this point in time but ask you, nonetheless, to consider them.

Anyway, I hope that MASSOB, and others like it, will strive for the peaceful discussion of their issues. I also hope that Nigerians will join in the discourse without resorting to violence. But, in a country like Nigeria where people (i.e. MEND) have already shunned non-violent means of communication, I can only hold my breath.

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