The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (intersociety) says its investigations have implicated the Nigerian Presidency in the extra-judicial killing of over Biafra agitators in parts of the country’s South-East and South-South in the past few months.
“Our extensive investigations also showed that the killing and maiming of IPOB members under reference is inescapably a hate killing and presidentially sanctioned,” the group said in the concluding part of its 10-page letter to Chief of Defence Staff Gabriel Olonisakin and Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau. Dated 16th February, 2016, the letter was signed by Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
The letter put the number of unarmed Biafra campaigners shot by security agencies in just over five months at over 170. Intersociety demanded “that those involved in the butcheries . . . should be thoroughly investigated and be made to account for atrocities under reference.”
Intersociety warned that continued killing of unarmed citizens peacefully demanding for the resuscitation of Biafra could turn Nigeria into another Syria.” Parts of the concluding section of the letter read as follows:
“Shot & Critically Injured Victims: Out of over 170 citizens that were shot and critically injured by Nigerian security forces particularly the Army, Police and Navy between 30th of August 2015 and 9th of February 2016, most of them are found in Delta, Rivers, Anambra, Abia and Enugu States. Of these, over 40 citizens were critically shot and injured in Anambra (30th August, 2nd and 17th December 2015); 80 in Abia State ( particularly on18th of January 2016, 29th of January 2016 and 9th of February 2016), 21 in Rivers State (30th August 2015); 10 in Delta State (30th August 2015) and 6 in Enugu State. These exclude scores of others critically shot and injured in related nonviolent protests in those States as well as Bayelsa State that went unreported or unaccounted for.
“Among those shot and critically injured in Rivers by Nigerian Army and the Police on 30th of August 2015 are Citizens Sunday Udegbe, Nwabunne Udo, Agwasi Anthony, Meshach Emmanuel, Chinwendu Ogbonna, Amanda Onyekachi, Emmanuel Arinze, Okwudiri Ojah, Chibuike David, Uzochi Ugwojialili, Chukwuma Igwe, Kingsley Okere, Chinedu Solomon Iwu, Okon Emmanuel Udo, Kelechi Uwaeze, Dominic Uwalaka, Solomon Chikwe, Ikenna Ezekwem, Thomas Ubani, Amarachi Onyemachi and Chukwudi Ofoegbuliwe. In Enugu State, the following were shot and critically injured: Mr. Godswill Ojikeme, Mrs. Chinyere Godswill Ojikeme, Monday Ogbodo, Jonah Kelechi, Onuigbo Paul and Obiorah Innocent.
“Those deadly shot and wounded in Delta State are: Chinedu Abel, Onovo Michael, Kingsley Anuife, Amechi Ojieh, Ogbonna Kanayo, David Ogbu, Charles Chukwuka, Elochukwu Uzor, Chinedu Chukwuma and Onyekanna Ifechukwudebelu. Those shot and critically injured on 30th August 2015 in Anambra State are: Sampson Kalu, Chidiebere Nnaji, Onyekwelu Ovute, Felix Ndianaefo, Ikechukwu Okafor, Chimaobi Okafor, Christopher Oforah, Sunday Nwazugbo, Stanley Eze, Mrs. Eucharia and Mrs. Patricia. Among those shot and critically injured by soldiers, Police and Navy in Onitsha on 2nd of December 2015 are: Citizens Jonah Kelechi, Nwode Friday, Ogodo Monday, Nwankwo Ejike, Onuigbo Paul, Mbonu Izunna and Obiora Innocent. Among those shot and critically injured by security forces in Onitsha on 17th of December 2015 peaceful and non violent protest are: Amadi Chinonso, Chukwudi Dabelechi, Alo Amechi, Nwaele Chigozie, Okonkwo Felix, Eneje Emeka, Uchechukwu Kingsley, Igwebuike Chinonso, Onyemaechi Ikeagu, Nwaoba Emeka, Nwajioha Chinonso, Nwaele Chinonso, Ijeoma Chukwu, Francis Ikechukwu, Ejike Jideoffor, Makuochukwu Ozobi and Okechukwu Okonkwo.
“Among innocent and unarmed citizens shot and critically injured in Aba on 9th of February by security forces under reference are: Mrs. Charity Ahuruonye (40yrs), from Ugwunabo in Abia State; Chibuzor Akabueze (29yrs), from Mbano in Imo State, Chukwuemeka Iwuoha (Nwangele in Imo State), Chibuzor Chukwu (Oshiri in Ebonyi State), Innocent Chinedu Okoro (52yrs), from Akuma Ihechiowa in Abia State, Obinna Emmanuel Alaribe (26yrs), from Umuobasi in Abia State, Uchenna Ihuoma (28yrs), from Njaba in Imo State, Ekene Uzor (29yrs), from Ojoto in Anambra State, Sunday Kalu (63yrs), from Ihechiowa in Abia State; Mrs. Nnenna Okebe (55yrs), from Abiriba in Abia State; Mrs. Comfort Kingsley (32yrs); Mrs. Ngozi Paul (34yrs), from Amumara Mbaise in Imo State; and Ifiok Alexandra Ibanga (Ubon Akwa-Obot Akara in Akwa Ibom State; all totaling 85 shot and critically wounded citizens..
“Some of the gunshot victims mentioned above in Delta, Anambra, Rivers, Enugu and Abia States have died following the gravity of their gunshot injuries and lack of funds needed for their proper medical treatments. Most, if not all of them, were shot at close range by the murderous security forces under reference. Some have been crippled and can never walk again while others have their limbs or arms amputated; yet others have their body parts badly lacerated. Among these innocent victims are fathers, breadwinners, tax payers, mothers, pregnant women, the elderly, sons and daughters and they having never used or advocated violence.
“Condemnation: The worst crime against humanity by the State is killing and maiming of its citizens in peacetime. In wartime, killing of civilians not taking part in the war by State and non State actors; unambiguously constitutes war crimes and it is a fundamental breach of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, particularly their Protocol 11 (protection of civilians and other non combatants in internal conflicts); how much more killing and maiming of innocent, nonviolent and unarmed citizens in peacetime. It saddens our heart that Nigeria, which claims to be a respected member of the international community including AU and UN, can mindlessly and rapaciously turn its instrument of State violence against its unarmed, nonviolent and peaceful citizens. Under the ten basic standards (Ten Commandments) of international law and humanitarian principles, their 4th commandment forbids Nigeria and other member-States of the UN from “using force when policing unlawful but non-violent assemblies”.
“Our extensive investigations also showed that the killing and maiming of IPOB members under reference is inescapably a hate killing and presidentially sanctioned and condoned. It is also an ethnic cleansing. Our recent field observations, observed at various military checkpoints in Aba and Onitsha clearly indicated the flooding of the Southeast Zone with carefully selected and posted soldiers mostly dominated by Muslim northerners as young as 22-25 years. These elements are incurably ethnic cleansers and hate killers, once opportunities occur. They are also under the commands of Muslim officers from core north with possible matching orders from above to shoot, maim and kill at sight members of Igbo Ethnic Nationality.
“For instance, the Onitsha Field Artillery Cantonment is headed by Col Isa Abdullahi; a Muslim officer from core north; likewise the 144 Battalion in Abia State, headed by Lt Col Kasim Umar Sidi; another killer northern officer. The 82nd Division of the same Nigerian Army that coordinates the entire army formations in the Southeast Zone is also headed by Major Gen Ibrahim Attahiru; a Muslim officer from the core north.
“Further condemned is the unconstitutional roles of the Army in intervening in peaceful and non-violent protests under reference. Taking vengeance of its causalities in the Boko Haram insurgency on innocent and unarmed citizens is recipe for anarchy and breeding of another insurgency in Nigeria. We are aware that till date, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo); a Niger Delta oil militant, has continued to defy several court orders and court orders given to security forces in Nigeria to bring him to court have not been executed till date; thereby suggesting that once armed in Nigeria, a citizen is feared and respected by security forces. In other words, Nigerian security forces under your administrative midwifery appear to be encouraging citizens to take up arms and become lawless while discouraging others from being law abiding and ventilating their social angers within the ambit of the law such as throughdemocratic free speeches, peaceful and nonviolent processions, picketing and protesting assemblies. If Nigerian security forces under your administrative midwifery can be so heartless to direct State violence against innocent and unarmed citizens exercising their democratic free speeches, then there is unquenchable danger ahead. Saddening, too, is total abandonment of codes of conduct guiding the use of force and modern crowd control handling styles, which includes the proportionality of use of force. The handling styles of the Nigerian security forces in the named butcheries are gravely in violation of the Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution and various international human rights treaties, signed, ratified or domesticated by Nigeria.
“Consequences: We make bold to say that the Nigerian security forces under your administrative midwifery are breeding or instigating another insurgency; if not insurgencies in Nigeria. The Board Chairman of this organisation (Intersociety), Emeka Umeagbalasi, still recalls how he was respectfully taught by your person (Gen Dambazzau, PhD) at the National Open University of Nigeria in the Department of Criminology & Security Studies about how not to create or encourage triggers of divided society and how to nip personal and structural violence in the bud using democratic and constitutional pluralism. One of such seminal books in Gen Dambazzau’s name is called Patterns & Trends of Crimes in Nigeria and their control measures. In such books, promotion of good governance and rule of law, respect for and protection of human rights, political tolerance and political inclusion as well as free speech were emphasised as fundamental panaceas for ensuring effective crime control in democratic Nigeria. Yet, the recent turn of events with respect to the subject matter under discussion, clearly represents the opposite of what academically erudite Gen Dambazzau, as a doctor of criminology, taught the like of Emeka Umeagbalasi at NOUN.
“The consequences of unleashing State violence on unarmed citizens are unquenchably calamitous. Going by modern theory of violence, no State or any group or individual has monopoly of it. As a matter of fact, violence is very much around and more menacing in the hands of non-State actors and its forms and applications have no limits. Our recent study of modern intra State or internal violent conflicts, which are very active in 64 countries around the world; clearly showed that most of them started as peaceful and non violent agitations or protests, but became violent and devastating following violent responses or crackdowns and other poor handling styles by host territorial governments. Today, there are a total of 64 active and devastating internal armed conflicts raging in 64 countries around the world as at 2015, involving 591 militia-guerrillas and other armed separatist groups; out of which, 27 internal violent conflicts are ongoing in Africa, involving 167 militia-guerrillas and other armed separatist groups. The Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) presently parades the highest number of armed opposition groups in Africa with 36 (warsintheworld.com 2015). We totally concur with a saying that “the worst peace is better than the best war”.
“That is to say that Nigeria’s present political leaders must learn from recent histories and have a total change of attitude. At a point in the history of Ethiopia of the 80s, for instance, fourteen violent conflicts were simultaneously going on in its entire 14 regions, forcing the country to embark on compulsory recruitment of every Tom, Dick and Harry including child-soldiers into its standing army. The country later became the Africa’s largest army with over 500,000 soldiers. The escalated conflicts in Ethiopia initially started between it and its Eritrean region, but got escalated and they were principally as a result of Col Mengistu Haile Mariam’s sit tight and iron fisted leadership and gross political intolerance including violent crackdowns on unarmed opposition groups. He was the country’s brutal dictator from 1974-1991.
“In Ivory Coast, it was similar political and violent crackdown against current President Alassane Dramane Quattara and his Dimbokro tribe; paternal descendants of former Muslim rulers of Burkina Faso in mid 90s that plunged the country into violent conflicts (2002-2007 & November 2010-April 2011). In Syria, the internal violent conflict that began in March 2011 has led to killing of over 260,000 citizens and displacement of over half of the population. The conflict is also traced to iron fisted leadership of the Assad family (Hafez Al-Assad, 1971-2000 (died in office) and Bashar al-Assad (son) 2000-date) and violent crackdown on political and sectional opponents. In Somalia, the country is one of the most homogenous and mono-religious (Muslims) countries in the world, yet it was political intolerance and violent crackdown on opposition voices; propelled by political sit-tight of Gen Mohamed Said Bare (1969-1991) that plunged the country into endless internal violent conflict that led to balkanization of the country and lawlessness till date.
“For the fact that modern violence knows no border or boundaries and have given birth to “wars-without-borders”, the Federal Government of Nigeria, under Gen Muhammadu Buhari must be extremely careful and refrain from breeding or provoking more insurgencies in Nigeria. The population size of Nigeria (estimated at 174 million) defies any form of humanitarian emergencies and responses in the event of eruption of another or escalated ethno-religious inspired violent insurgency or insurgencies. And it is a common knowledge among modern conflict theorists thatvalue and identity based violent reactions or conflicts are usually endless and devastating than violent conflicts over economic needs and interests. Nigerian security chiefs and political leaders must stop provoking and breeding more insurgencies and in the event of eruption of more insurgencies in the country; their weapons of mass murder of today, will become den guns only capable of shepherding their escape routes to refugee camps.
“Demands: We firmly demanded from the duo of Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Interior that their two important public offices must speak and advise President Muhammadu Buhari in Arabic and Hausa languages that he understands very well and correctly that Nigeria under his presidency must not be plunged into another insurgency on account of the militant and hostile approaches adopted by his administration in responding to peaceful and non violent agitations of pro Biafra activists. IPOB issue is a time bomb on account of its members and supporters scattering in the darkest and brightest parts of the world where access to modern types and forms of violence is at beck and call and limitless. This is in addition to the modern global culture of borderlessness powered by information technology or ICT. Other potential insurgencies may also abound in the country waiting to be provoked or exploded.
“President Muhammadu Buhari must also be advised and made to understand in his native Hausa and Arabic languages that a lot has changed between when he held sway in the military as a coup leader and as civil war participant and present times. Warfare methodologies have since undergone a series of metamorphoses.
“We further demanded that those involved in the butcheries under reference, that is to say the Commanding Officer of 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Abia State; Lt Col Kasim Umar Sidi, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Habila Hosea, the Aba Area Commander, Peter Nwagbara, the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy (Finance & Logistics Command), Owerre-Nta, Abia State, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Hosea Karma, the Commanding Officer of the Onitsha Military Cantonment, Col Isa Abdullahi, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai and Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase should be thoroughly investigated and be made to account for atrocities under reference.
“Specifically the Aba massacre and dumping of 13 murdered bodies inside the Aba-Port Harcourt Road Burrow Pit should be thoroughly and conclusively investigated. The two Army Commanding officers under reference (Col Abdullahi and Lt Col Umar Sidi) should be withdrawn from the Southeast. The present practice whereby the Zone is flooded with and dominated by young and murderous soldiers of core northern Muslim origin should reversed. Soldiers to be posted in the Southeast Zone should comprise those of other geopolitical zones; likewise their commanding officers. Soldiers should also be barred from involvement in handling peaceful and non-violent protests and processions in Nigeria; whether such are organised by IPOB or members of other social groups in the country. To be thoroughly investigated also is the military status of those young and murderous soldiers of core northern Muslim origin as young as 22-25 years, who are flooded in the Southeast to engage in ethnic cleansing. When were they recruited into the Nigerian Army? If it was months ago, was the recruitment restricted to core northern part of Nigeria alone?
“Nigerian security forces should also be barred from using live bullets and assault rifles in handling or controlling peaceful and non violent assemblies; and non lethal crowd control gadgets with minimum force (if extremely necessary) should be used. Bearing in mind the international law and UN’s principle of complementarity, which is also enshrined in the ICC Statute of 1998, ratified by Nigeria on 27th of September 2001, this letter of ours was directed to the two important offices under reference in the hope that they would be “willing and able” to frontally address the issues under complaint.”