`Gentlemen of the Press,
1. I convened this conference today to offer some clarifications on the crisis that erupted in Nkpor yesterday between the law enforcement agents and the young men and women who staged a peaceful demonstration under different names to mark the annual Igbo Day. This conference became a necessity following the curious interpretations given to the incident by different segments of the media.
2. However, we are worried that the recent crisis in Nkpor appears to have opened an unpleasant vista on the reportage of issues of grave national importance in the contemporary history of the Nigerian press. We are concerned at how a strain of virulent sensationalism appears to have crept into the various accounts given by different media platforms on the incident (We hope for a more cautionary approach that takes cognizance of the fragile strands of national unity and the supremacy of objectivity over fanciful headlines in professional journalism).
3. It was in a bid to provide a balanced perspective on the matter that we issued a Press Statement yesterday to serve as a guide to journalists whose aim is to provide an objective account on the crisis to the public. Unfortunately, much to our perplexity, a great number of people preferred the sensational to the factual. It is for the purpose of separating the imaginary from the hard facts that we wish to restate as follows –
i. That the peaceful demonstration by youths who allegedly belong to the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to mark the Igbo Day was hijacked by hoodlums whose designs were antithetical to the peace and security of Anambra State.
ii. That these elements who infiltrated the peaceful demonstration, turned violent at Nkpor; fired live bullets at the policemen who were detailed to watch the procession and ensure that it was peaceful and burnt down a patrol van to send a dangerous signal to the entire neighbourhood that Anambra had lost the peace we had all enjoyed for two unbroken years.
a. Nothing happened inside St Edmunds Catholic Church Nkpor. The confrontation was at a nearby Primary School.
b. No house was burnt. We counted about 2 cars at Eke Nkpor and a motorcycle at Afor Nkpor.
c. His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano has already expressed his deepest condolences to families who lost their dear ones to this avoidable shootout.
d. Items recovered
iv. Banners (IPOB etc)
iv. That the actual number of casualties can be ascertained from the office of the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State as against the curious figures being bandied in the press.
v. That contrary to the sensational report alleging that some citizens who took shelter in a church were murdered in cold blood inside the chapel, no such incident happened in actuality. My team visited Nkpor this morning to verify that claim from the residents and it was dismissed as dubious and misleading. However, there was a gun battle between those criminal infiltrators and the police in the premises of a nearby primary school. We urge the general public to disregard this claim as it is false. It is the duty of the Obiano administration to protect the life and property of every Nigerian resident in Anambra State and a threat to the life of any citizen will be resisted with the strongest possible force.
vi. We want to assure Ndi Anambra that calm has since returned to Nkpor and that people have resumed their normal lives under the re-assuring protection of the law.
vii. We wish to appeal to our colleagues in the media and various Nigerians who have assumed the sacred duty of citizen journalism with their mobile phones to always place national interest far and above other considerations, especially in a season of anomie as the one our dear country has found itself in.
viii. Thank you.
Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta
Hon Commissioner for Information and Strategy