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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Nigerian treason charges dropped
Biafran soldiers in 1967
Massob revives memories of the horrors of the Biafran civil war
Treason charges have been dropped against 53 Nigerian footballers for belonging to a banned secessionist group who played in a youth tournament.

The judge said 25 had no case to answer and 28 would face the lesser charge of membership of an illegal organisation.

The competition was organised by the banned group Massob, which campaigns for a separate eastern state of Biafra.

Biafran secessionist calls led to a three-year war in the 1960s in which more than one million people died.

Nearly all the men have been in custody since September, because of stringent bail conditions imposed.

Massob - Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra - was banned three years ago. It says it is pursuing its objectives for the Ibo people in eastern Nigerian peacefully.

Several Massob members have died in the last three years in clashes with the police in south-eastern Nigeria, where it draws the bulk of its support.

The government is intolerant of its existence because it revives memories of the horrors of the civil war against Biafra in 1967, says the BBC's Sola Odunfa in Nigeria.


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