In the first part of this publication, dated 5th of April 2016, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law made a firm promise to furnish all Nigerians and members of the international community including all international rights and media groups with detailed information concerning the shooting, abduction, murdering and dumping in Onitsha General Hospital Mortuary of some jubilant members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment led by Col Issah Abdullahi. The dastardly act was perpetrated on 17th of December 2015 at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead in Anambra State, Southeast of Nigeria.
We had earlier reported that not less than 80 members and supporters of the IPOB were shot and killed by the security forces, which also shot and terminally maimed over 170 others particularly in the Southeast and the South-south zones. The shootings and killings took place between 30th of August 2015 and 9th of February 2016 during nonviolent and peaceful protests and processions associated with nonviolent pro Biafra agitation. While the killings are concentrated in three locations of Onitsha/Awka, Aba and Igweocha (Rivers State); the shootings and their victims are majorly found in five locations of Onitsha/Awka, Asaba, Enugu, Aba and Igweocha (Rivers State). The Nigerian Army accounts for 65% of the culpability, while the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Navy Command account for 30% and 5% respectively. The crude State violence used was fuelled by pronouncements to that effect by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai and retiring IGP, Solomon Arase. The pronouncements, which were widely publicized in local and international visual, audio-visual and online media; specifically directed their sub commanders and subordinates to use maximum force and other available means to crush any peaceful procession or protest associated with pro Biafra agitation.
Read the first part of this article, How Pro-Biafra Activists Were Murdered And Dumped At Onitsha Mootuary By Nigerian Soldiers.
Photos and video evidence are at the end of this report.
Apart from the shootings and killings, hundreds of IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their supporters particularly in the South-south and the Southeast zones are presently languishing in various prisons across the country after being arraigned in inferior courts that do not have jurisdictional competence to try them in spurious charges of capital felonies leveled against them. Such felonies carry death penalty and life imprisonment on conviction. This segment of the dastardly act is solely perpetrated by the Nigeria Police Force; in addition to indiscriminate arrest and arbitrary detention of members and supporters of the group using criminal stigmatization by labeling them “Biafra members”. Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is also a routine and commonly used by soldiers, navy and police personnel in the treatment of arrested and detained IPOB activists. There are also cases of disappearances of IPOB/pro Biafra activists and supporters. In Abia State and between the State and Rivers State, corpses of unarmed citizens suspected to be IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their supporters are indiscriminately dumped in burrow pits or buried in shallow graves. While 16 dead bodies were recently discovered in two locations in Aba and environs, there is also latest discovery of eight more corpses in a pit in the border town of Etche in Rivers State. The area is located between Abia, Imo and Rivers States.
Warning: Some of the images in this report are of a graphic nature. Viewer discretion is advised.
According to Comrade Michael Okoro, an IPOB official in Abia State and a resident of Aba, “I went to the abandoned site last week where the eight corpses were dumped and I saw them. We strong suspect that those eight new corpses dumped in Etche Community are members of our organization (IPOB) arrested in their homes and other locations as well as those arrested by soldiers since 9th of February 2016 at Ngwa High School, who were moved to the Ohafia Military Barracks. One of those arrested on that day and taken to Ohafia Barracks alongside others, got freed recently on account of his father’s wealth and connections. It was from him and other reliable resources that we gathered that even up till now, our members are still there while others whereabouts are unknown till date. It is possible they are taken to those secret places alive and executed. Families whose loved ones have gone missing on account of IPOB nonviolent protests in Aba are too afraid to speak out”. This expressly suggests that the Nigerian Army in the area dominated by soldiers of Hausa-Fulani stock is engaged in systematic and secret execution of those in their captivity, after which they are sparsely dumped in pits or buried in mass graves.
Pretrial Arbitrary Detention Of IPOB Officials: Twenty officials (20) and members of the IPOB from Abia, Imo and Rivers States who were arrested by the Abia State Police Command since 9th of February 2016 during the shooting and killing of 22 IPOB activists and injuring of over 30 others at Ngwa High School in Aba are still languishing in Umuahia Prisons. They were arraigned in inferior court (Magistrate Court 1) in Umuahia, which lacks jurisdiction to try them over capital felonies slammed on them; following which they were sent to prisons as “awaiting trial detainees” and till date, their trial has not commenced. While 16 of them were arrested on 9th of February 2016, four others have been in pretrial detention since January 2016. Their names are (1) Ugwoha Okechukwu, (2) Okechukwu Nnebedum, (3)Donatus O. Okeke, (4) John Onyebuchi, (5) Ifeanyi Okike, (6) Amos Nkemjika Ezekiel, (7) Joseph Okorie, (8)Ani Chimezie, (9)Jude Amiche, (10) Emeka Ezeugo, (11)Igwechukwu Ebuka,(12)Monday Ibenji, (13) Okwudili Okafor, (14) Nnabuike Obasi, (15) Ngozi Onuorah (she is married with five children), (16) Nwogu Ginikachi and (17) Nwogu Eberechi (sisters), (18) Chibuzor Okpara, (19) Oluchukwu Bekee (she is married with a kid) and (20)Nnene Ekwueme (she is married with six children).
Summary Of The Butchery Across The Niger: Clusters as well as extensive nonviolent protests and processions by IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their teeming supporters were between 30th of August and 2nd of December 2015 organized in Anambra State particularly in Onitsha and environs; followed by Nnewi, Ekwulobia and Awka. Other than that of 30th of August and that of 2nd of December 2015; there were no reports of casualties and gunshot wounds. In the 30th of August 2015 nonviolent protest near the Awka Government House embarked upon by the women wing of IPOB, some of them sustained wounds inflicted on them by police personnel attached to Awka Government House. In the 2nd of December 2015 large protest in Onitsha and environs, the security forces (police, army and navy) shot and killed at least 13 IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their supporters and terminally maimed over 20 others. In the two protests under reference, not less than 13 IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their supporters were shot and killed and over 24 others terminally maimed. In the entire shootings and killings associated with IPOB/pro Biafra nonviolent protests, processions and jubilations in Anambra State, over 27 IPOB activists and supporters were killed by security and over 40 others terminally maimed. The casualties include five persons that died later in the hospital following terminal gunshots.
17th of December 2015 Massacre Of Jubilant IPOB/pro Biafra Activists At Onitsha Niger Bridgehead: Following a pronouncement made by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court for immediate and unconditional release of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu (POC), which Federal Government of Nigeria later flouted; members of the IPOB, dominated by the Obosi Zone of the group at Nkpor abandoned their scheduled meeting same day and went into a celebration match along Onitsha-Enugu Expressway. The jubilant group in their dozens peacefully marched and sang along the Expressway before headed towards the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead to pay homage to the statue of late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu erected before the Bridge. On getting to the spot, soldiers of Hausa-Fulani extraction stationed at the Bridge sighted them and pulled their triggers. Before the jubilant IPOB members knew what was happening, the murderous soldiers had opened fire on them, killing at least nine of them instantly and terminally maiming over 17 others.
As if that was not enough, the murderous soldiers attached to the Onitsha Military Cantonment made away with corpses of those they killed and a number of others with gunshot wounds. Others abandoned by soldiers were rushed to hospital by sympathizers and unhurt IPOB activists. The soldiers later stormed the Multicare Hospital where they were taken to and abducted 22 of them including the victims’ relatives and those injured who were at terminal state. The soldiers stormed the Hospital around 10:08pm same night of the dastardly act (17th of December 2015). They later in the same night brought back five of them who were at terminal state. The remaining others were held hostage in the Onitsha Army Barracks till 19th of December 2015 when they were transferred to the State CID at Awka following advocacy outcries by our organization and the Anambra State Branch of the CLO. Following efforts made by the two rights groups, all the 17 army hostages taken to the State CID were freed, except those they shot and abducted at the Niger Bridgehead on 17th of December 2015. Among the 17 citizens held hostage by soldiers (injured and relatives) were Amaechi Alo, Ejike Jideofor, Onyema Ikeagwu, Emeka Nwaoba, Emeka Eneje, Felix Okeke, Prince Ogechukwu Okonkwo, etc. Names of the five citizens at terminal injury state returned by soldiers to the the Multicare Hospital same night were given as Nzubechukwu Okonkwo (Prince), Chinonso Nwele, Debeluchi Chukwu, Chigozie Nweke and Chinonso. Four of the wounded citizens shot by soldiers later died in the Hospital, in addition to another gunshot victim that died at the Paragon Hospital.
Dumping Of Abducted & Murdered IPOB Activists At Onitsha General Hospital Morgue: Following the dastardly act perpetrated by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment led by Col Issah Abdullahi, search parties were raised by IPOB members and families of the victims. The searches were extended to River Niger where divers were hired as well as visits to public mortuaries; all in search of missing IPOB activists. Weeks later, a breakthrough was recorded when information got to the IPOB that three of their members shot and abducted by soldiers on 17th of December 2015 were found dumped at the Onitsha General Hospital mortuary. The Hospital is owned by the Government of Anambra State. Initial efforts made to confirm the information from the Hospital hit a brick wall following a firm order by the Hospital management to the staffs of its mortuary section to keep a sealed lip on the issue. It took weeks of cries, lamentations and persuasions from families of the victims to soothe the conscience of some staffs; on strict condition of anonymity. It was unofficially revealed to IPOB, victims’ families and our organization that some soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment stormed the Hospital with some police personnel from the Onitsha Central Police Station (CPS) and deposited the three corpses of murdered IPOB members on 21st of December 2015; four days after the shooting and killing rampage.
Further investigations revealed that the corpses were hidden somewhere in Awka before they were transferred to the Onitsha Government General Hospital on the approval of some officials of the Government of Anambra State. Investigations further revealed that “soldiers cannot deposit such murdered corpses in public mortuary on their own without the involvement of the police”, which was why they sought and secured the involvement of police personnel of the CPS, Onitsha. Arrangements were unofficially made by the mortuary section of the Hospital with the victims’ families and the IPOB, leading to facial and pictorial identification of their murdered loved ones; after which their corpses were removed from the Hospital and taken home for burial on 11th and 12th of March 2016. Our organization visited the Hospital on 8th and 9th of March 2016. The three murdered corpses and their States, LGAs and Communities’ of their origin are: (1) Michael Nweke (37) from Aguekka, Ekka Community of Ezza North LGA in Ebonyi State. He was buried on 11th of March 2016; (2) Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo (26) from Amaokpo in Nssakra Omege Community of Ezza South LGA in Ebonyi State. He was buried on 11th of March 2016, and (3) Mathew Ndukwe Kanu (25) from Ndiodo Community in Akanu-Ohafia LGA in Abia State. He was buried on 12th of March 2016.
The link below contains written testimonies of the immediate relatives of the three murdered IPOB activists. The relatives are (1) Sunday Nweke (younger brother to late Michael Nweke), (2) Frank Chijioke Nwankwo (elder brother to late Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo) and (3) Grace Onyinyechi Kanu (elder sister to late Mathew Ndukwe Kanu). They met with Intersociety recently. Read their testimonies HERE
We renew our call for international enquiries or investigations into these dastardly acts. The Buhari administration must stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing and mass murder of unarmed and nonviolent members of the Igbo Ethnic Group in Nigeria and refrain from pushing the innocent Race to the wall. We also demand for international arrest and prosecution of the following security chiefs in Nigeria: (1) Lt General Turkur Buratai (COAS), (2) IGP Solomon Arase (retiring Police IG), (3) Col Issah Abdullahi (Commander of Onitsha Military Cantonment), Lt Kasim Sidi Umar (Commander of 144 Battalion, Aba), (4) CP Hosea Habila (CP of Abia State), and (5) ACP Peter Nwagbara (Aba Area Commander); among others for their collective and individual involvements in the dastardly acts under reference. We also call on the international community and local and international rights and media groups to mount and sustain intensive pressures on the authorities of the Nigerian Army and their Onitsha Military Cantonment for the purpose of disclosing where they dumped the corpses of other IPOB/pro Biafra activists and their supporters shot, murdered and abducted alongside those of late Citizens Michael Nweke, Peter Chukwuma Nwankwo and Matthew Ndukwe Kanu on 17th of December 2015 at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead.
We also demand for immediate and unconditional release of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu (POC) and others standing kangaroo trials and political persecutions with him as well as 20 IPOB officials and members dumped at Umuahia Prisons before and since 9th of February 2016, whose names are given above. The continuing detention of women among them particularly those with little children at home is a serious affront to the principles and purposes of the United Nations as well as the basic standards of the international law and humanitarian principles.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor Esq.
Head, Campaign & Publicity Department