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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Women threaten to curse Nigerians
Ralph Uwazuruike
Ralph Uwazuruike has not seen his children in two years
A group of Nigerian women says it will place a curse on the country's men if the government fails to free an Igbo separatist leader held for treason.

The women say Ralph Uwazuruike, who has been in custody for almost two years, must be freed within 24 hours.

The women did not spell out what kind of curse they would place.

A BBC correspondent says this is the first time a curse has been used politically, although many Nigerians believe in witchcraft.

Mr Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (Massob), was arrested in October 2005 after he announced that the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria would launch a renewed secession bid.

The Eastern Women's Consultative Forum (EWCF) say they will take the corpse of Mr Uwazuruike's mother, who died recently, to the presidential villa if the government fails to act on their demand.

What upsets the Igbo population is we are not equally Nigerian as the others
Emeka Ojukwu

"Other detainees from other geo-political zones have regained their freedom except him and the other members of Massob," Elizabeth Unuoha told reporters in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

Recently, Nigerian courts freed two Yoruba separatist leaders and granted bail to Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, the most prominent rebel leader from the Niger Delta.

Like Mr Uwazuruike, they had all been charged with treason.

'Marginalised'

The EWCF also said they would embark on street demonstrations similar to the historic Aba women's riots of 1929.

In 1929, Igbo women who were unhappy with a direct tax policy imposed by the British colonial government, stripped naked and took the streets.

More than one million people died after the three-year Biafran civil war broke out in 1967.

Massob says the Igbo people are still "marginalised".

Recently, Biafran leader Emeka Ojukwu, who ran for president in April's general elections, said the Igbo people have even more reason today to seek independence.


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