A reported clash between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and some soldiers has thrown Umuahia, the Abia state capital in a state of confusion.
The Nation reports that the clash which occurred at the popular Isi Gate area shut down the city as business owners were forced to close their shops over fear of arrest or being caught up in the crisis.
Though details about what sparked the clash between the soldiers and the IPOB remains unclear, some sources claim the clash began after soldiers at a checkpoint around Isi Gate stopped a commercial tricycle operator and demanded that the driver should hand over to them the Biafra and IPOB insigma in his tricycle, but that the driver refused.
It was reported that the refusal of the driver to comply with the order escalated into a heated argument which attracted a crowd. It was said that the soldiers on seeing that a crowd was gathering shot into the air to scare people, but that the crowd overpowered them and injured some of them in the process.
Another version of the incident claims that the refusal of a tricycle operator to give money to some soldiers stationed at Isi Gate who were extorting commercial tricycle operators sparked the crisis.
It was reported that the soldiers slapped the commercial tricyclist for refusing to give them money and this situation degenerated into a fight when members of the union in solidarity with their member engaged the soldiers in a brawl.
Speaking on the incident, a member of IPOB who did not want his identity revealed, said the soldiers shot at and injured some of the people who had remained peaceful and were appealing to the soldiers to release the tricyclist to go about his business since they couldn’t find anything incriminating on him.
But the public relations officer of 14 Brigade Ohafia, Major Oyegoke Gbadamosi, denied that the soldiers fueled the crisis. He alleged that the operational vehicle of the soldiers was damaged by the crowd and that some of the soldiers injured in the incident were in an undisclosed hospital where they were receiving medical attention.
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