Miss Anthonia Nkeiruka Ikeanyionwu, aged 20, was among the fallen heroines who met their untimely death during the picketing at Ojukwu gateway, Onitsha Head bridge on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB).
Tragedy struck when few weeks to the end of the year, bullets from the guns of some trigger-happy Nigerian soldiers, in league with other joint sister agencies who were deployed to quell the protest by the IPOB, suddenly flew in from God-knows-where and struck dead Miss Anthonia Nkeiruka Ikeanyionwu, a 200-level student of Educational Management and Policy, Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State, leaving her in a pool of blood.
The picketing at the Head bridge by IPOB, was to drive home their demand for the unconditional release of the then illegally detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu who was languishing at Kuje prisons without any form of trial. Biafrans were simply picketing under moral and ideological precepts against the continued detention and incarceration of Mr Kanu.
The Biafra protesters had converged from various states in Biafra land and beyond to ask for his release only to be attacked at odd hours by the combined team of the Nigerian army, police, civil defence, navy and what have you.
Apart from Miss Ikeanyionwu, the incident led to the death of other innocent hawkers, a ‘suya’ merchant and passersby who got struck by the stray bullets while some surviving victims sustained varying degrees of injuries as a result of the violent, uncultured and unprofessional engagement of the security operatives.
Furthermore, evidences abound of unarmed and defenseless pro-Biafra protesters being gunned down in cold blood by Nigerian security agents during demonstrations.
It could be recalled that in respect to the cold murder of Miss Ikeanyionwu and others, a human rights group, The Kingdom Human Rights International, on behalf of IPOB and families of the deceased victims, filed a lawsuit before a Federal High Court in Abuja, demanding an aggregate sum of N8.5 billion in damages against the federal government over the killing and maiming of pro-Biafra protesters on October 20 and December 2, 2015 in parts of South East and South South geopolitical zones.
The suit, which was filed by counsels in the firm, Okere Kingdom Nnamdi, Paul Nwoko, and Richard Udozo, also joined the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation, the National Assembly of Nigeria, and the Chief of Army Staff as respondents.
Others also joined in the suit were: the former Inspector General of Police, the Commissioners of Police in Imo, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States commands, the Commandant General of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Director General of the Department of State Services.
Among other reliefs, the suit was seeking a declaration of the court as crime against humanity, unlawful, cruel, brutal, and wicked the killing of “unarmed, non-violent and peaceful protesters who are exercising their right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association and right to self-determination as guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles I, IV XIX of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, by the combined team of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies.”
Though peacefully buried and laid to rest on December 8, 2015, Miss Anthonia Ikeanyionwu will always remain in our minds as part of those who sacrificed their lives for the irrevocable restoration of Biafra and that we shall always remember. She died that we might live to continue in the pursuit to regain our nationhood. And for that single reason, we will forever adore and cherish her even after death.