Army Lied About Enugu ‘Clearance’ Operation, Arrest Of ESN Commander – Intersociety

Army Lied About Enugu ‘Clearance’ Operation, Arrest Of ESN Commander – Intersociety

By Intersociety | Human Rights Advocacy on December 30, 2021
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Emma Powerful
IPOB

International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has described the statement made by the Nigerian Army through its Director of Public Relations, Brig General Onyema Nwachukwu that it arrested a wanted notorious ESN Commander in Enugu State as far from the truth.

It said that the statement which was issued on Monday, December 27, 2021, and widely published in various print and electronic media; “is thousands of miles away from what actually transpired in Egudene-Ekpofu in Nkanu East of Enugu State where the Nigerian Army claimed to have conducted its “clearance” operation.

According to Intersociety’s detailed investigative findings, the soldiers of the Nigerian Army had between forbidden hours of 24th and 25th Night of December 2021 invaded Egudene-Ekpofu in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State and raided popular squares and quarters and several family houses during which Christmas Eve Church services and inter and inter communal movements were disrupted, forcing several citizens of the Community to flee their homes into the forests or across their neighboring friendly villages.

The statement partly reads: “Contrarily, findings made by Intersociety regarding the Army’s murderous operation are factually and irrefutably in contrast with the Nigerian Army claims which are shocking, vexatious, fallacious, watery, irritating, annoying, hateful, clannish and crude.

“In other words, contrary to the Army’s claims, there was no clearance operate at a camp suspected to be the fortress of ESN at Akpowfu forest in Nkanu East during which troops engaged the dissidents in a fire fight compelling them to take to their heels, leading to the arrest of their leader, from whom the troops recovered one AK-47 rifle, one magazine containing 21rounds of 7.62mm special bullets and one telephone handset from Nnamdi.

“The soldiers had also during the sinister operation attacked and raided houses and destroyed properties including doors, windows, electronics, etc; disrupted sleep, assaulted married and unmarried women and woke children from their sleep and traumatized them.

“The soldiers of the Nigerian Army under Enugu 82 Division also killed two defenseless citizens including a 13-year old boy (Master Arum from Ohuakpaka Quarters) who was shot and killed when his parents’ bedroom and its doors were broken into and as he was running helplessly for his dear life, the soldiers opened fire on him at close range and killed him instantly.

“The soldiers also shot and killed a yet-to-be middle-age man whose corpse was dumped at Obodo Nnemede Nwannaji near Onokolo Ode in the Community. As if the above dastardly acts were not enough, the soldiers also sighted a palm wine tapper on a palm tree and opened fire, and fatally wounded him. He is presently admitted at the Enugu Specialist Hospital. Not done, the soldiers accosted another up-wine (palm) tapper and dispossessed him of his 5 gallons of up-wine valued at N25, 000. His name is Citizen Chigozie Obushi.

“Through the use of threatened and terrified locals as “informants” who were forced to show them the dwelling houses of the Community’s young men of productive age bracket (20-50 years), the soldiers attacked and invaded several houses that same late night of 24th/25th December 2021 and abducted scores from their sleep. Also not spared were the late night Christmas returnees and those returning from Christmas Eve Church services as well as those attending Christmas morning Church services.

“The Army’s killer operation had commenced close to midnight of Christmas Even or 24th December 2021 and lasted till the morning of Christmas being 25th December 2021. It must be recalled that the Nigerian Army had in one of its two previous operations in the outgoing year in Egudene-Ekpofu-Nkanu Community forced a meeting between the elders and leaders of the Community and troops’ leaders at the Community’s popular market square during which the Army mandated the Community (Ekpofu) to compile the list of all the youths in the Community and hand same over to them (Army), failing which the Army would invade the Community constantly and treat all its youths as “ESN Members”.

Intersociety maintained that the Nigerian Army’s grouse against the Community and its neighbours followed the March 2020 dislodgement of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen from the Atunshi Forest from where the Jihadists abduct and rape their non-menopausal women and kill others, chase them out of their farmlands and occupy them.

On the true identity of a 40-year-old Mason labelled ESN Commander, Intersociety said that a detailed investigation it carried out showed that contrary to the Nigerian Army claims, the so called “ESN Commander”, identified by the Army as “Godwin Nnamdi”, is a 40-year-old mason and struggling father of two children.

It gave his real name as Godwin Nnaji (not Godwin Nnamdi) while his other identities are, age, 40, born in 1981, and an indigene of from Umuode Ega Kindred of Egudene in Ajame Amaeze Autonomous Community, Ekpofu in Nkanu East, Enugu State.

Continuing, the statement said: “He is unarmed and never used offensive violence. He is a Mason by occupation who struggles to feed himself, his wife, and two children. Abducted and falsely labeled Citizen Godwin Nnaji is married to Mrs. Blessing Nnaji (nee Nnaji) from Ogonogo-Eji Ndiagu Akpugo Autonomous Community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State.

“He was abducted from his rest and sleep following his sick-rest arising from work related stress and pains. He had taken some pain relief tablets and was sleeping when soldiers stormed his family house at about 12:21am on the Christmas Eve/early morning of 25th December 2021 and abducted him. Presence in the family’s dwelling house during his abduction were his mother-Madam Theresa Nnaji and two of his siblings including his blind younger brother, Onyema Nnaji who was also rough-handled and assaulted. Citizen Godwin Nnaji was fallaciously labeled “ESN Commander” because a bangle with ‘rising sun’ insignia was found on him.

“The soldiers later took him alongside other abductees to the 82 Division Headquarters in Enugu through Inyaba River into Oruku town and drove to their 82 Division Headquarters through Emene. After his abduction, Citizen Godwin Nnaji was bundled alongside others to Onokolo Market Square in the Community where he was mercilessly beaten and stripped half naked.  He has been located to be detained at ‘Galaxy Detention Camp’ of the 82 Division in Enugu and one of his younger brothers who went to see him was denied access by the lady Army officer in charge who said she is under superior instructions not to allow him to be visited or seen by anybody.

“Therefore, the claims by the Nigerian Army highlighted above are circumstantially fallacious and trademark of the Nigerian security forces particularly the Nigerian Army with which they have framed, abducted, and killed hundreds of defenseless and unarmed citizens of Southeast and South-south Nigeria especially between October 2020 and December 2021.”

Intersociety further said: “As a matter of fact and uttermost immediacy and inexcusability, Citizen Godwin Nnaji must be freed unconditionally; likewise others abducted and being held captive by the soldiers of the 82 Division in Enugu. The Nigerian Army must also let the affected Communities particularly Egudene-Ekpofu be and discontinue all forms of siege and associated brutalization and riotous brigandage in the area.

“Available indictable statistics have continued to show in the instant case that Nigerian Army is strongly holding brief for Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Nkanu East and Nkanu West particularly in Egudene-Ekpofu, Oruku, Amechi Idoodo, Amegunze and other ‘forest zone’ Communities in the area.

“The travail of the named Communities particularly Egudene-Ekpofu in the hands of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies started in March 2020 when Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen were quietly dislodged and matched out of their joint big Forest called “Be Atunshi Forest”; a big Forest between Amechi Idoodo, Amegunze, and Ekpofu Communities. Since then, the Nigerian Army has not allowed the people of the area to rest and have peace.

“As a matter of fact, soldiers have invaded and attacked the area at least three times since the start of the 2021 following the dislodgment of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and in the August 2021 attack, four defenseless citizens of Egudene-Ekpofu were shot dead and scores of others abducted.

“There have also been strong accusations that Nigerian Army’s several attacks in the area are remotely in revenge and plot to overrun the affected Communities so as to clear grounds for the return of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in the area. Local eyewitnesses have strongly alleged encampment of herds of cows and their herders mixed with Jihadist Marauders in Oruku and Amechi Idoodo waiting for the way to be cleared for them to re-enter the big ‘Be Atunshi Forest’.”

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