The 33 traders suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) arrested on November 33 at the Motor Spare Parts Market in Nnewi, Anambra State, have regained their freedom unconditionally.
Chairman of the Fairly Used and New Motorcycle Dealers Association (FUNMDA), Chukwueloka Ubajekwe, broke the news to journalists on Sunday evening.
According to him, the 33 traders were released on Saturday in Nnewi at the office of the Nnewi Police Area Commander, Nnanna Ama.
Mr Ubajekwe disclosed that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, deployed a special team that investigated and subsequently released the suspects.
According to Mr. Ubajekwe, the team arrived Awka and brought the 33 suspects down to Nnewi at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, following which a search was conducted in their various shops.
After the search, according to the chairman, the suspects were taken down to the Nnewi Police Area Command where their unconditional release was secured by the leadership of Nnewi markets.
The police spokesperson in Anambra State, Haruna Mohammed, neither picked his call nor replied a text message sent to him on the development.
But the Nnewi Area Commander, Nnanna Ama, confirmed the development.
He said the 33 traders were released in his presence at the Nnewi Area Command at about 11:30 p.m on Saturday, adding that they were instructed to report to the headquarters on Monday to collect their personal belongings, including money, motorcycles, and items of clothing.
Mr Ama said the IGP’s special team, which released the suspects, tendered an unalloyed apology on behalf of the IGP and the Nigerian Police to the affected persons, their families, Nnewi and Anambra people over the mistaken identity.
The traders were arrested on November 23 after suspected members of IPOB invaded Nnewi market where they clashed with the police, killing a police inspector and injuring two other officers.
This led to the arrest of the 33 suspects on suspicion of being members of the outlawed group.
But following protests from traders who shut down the market and a statement by IPOB denying that those arrested were its members, the IGP waded in by sending a special investigative team to handle the matter which led to their release.