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NBA Condemns Governor Ayade For Inviting Army’s For Reprisal Attacks On Cross River Communities

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The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and former presidential aide, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, have condemned Governor Ben Ayade’s call to the Nigerian Army to sustain reprisal action on Nko and Onyedama communities in Cross River State, where its full might has been unleashed on women, the elderly and school children and their houses.

In a statement signed by the chairman and secretary of the NBA Calabar Branch, Attah Ochinke, a former attorney general in the state; and Eno Edet respectively, the NBA described the governor’s call as appalling and ill-advised.

Encouraged by the governor’s order that the Nko community must fish out the people who allegedly shot some soldiers, the NBA said the soldiers have allegedly raped hapless women in the community and ravaged properties under the guise of fishing out the perpetrators reportedly responsible for the shooting of the military personnel.

They frowned at the killings and destruction of houses and other properties by the military in the operation to fish out the culprits.

“The reprisal attacks are raw vengeance and not an investigation as they are engaged in indiscriminate shooting and summary execution of Nko persons.

“We note that the crisis between Nko and Oyadama has become an annual embarrassment to the state. We particularly condemn the attack and killing of military personnel drafted to the scene to help bring the situation to order. While the details of the events are awaited, no excuse will justify the shooting of army personnel on a peacekeeping operation,” the NBA said.

“The law of armed conflicts, even in international scenarios, view the attack on peacekeepers as a heinous crime.”

The NBA said they are appalled that the governor, with a mandate for law and order in the state, responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of all Cross Riverians, has ordered the sustenance of such raw vengeance on the people he swore to protect and defend.

NBA said those killed, wounded, or raped and whose houses have been burnt in the reprisal attacks are not necessarily the perpetrators of the attack on the soldiers.

It said for the Governor to have encouraged the army to continue is to condemn more innocent citizens to a brutal death by soldiers exacting revenge for their fallen colleagues.

Meanwhile, they have called on the Army authorities to immediately withdraw its troops from the two communities.

“We urge the commanders of the military units involved, the GOC of 82 Division, Enugu, the Chief of Army Staff, and ultimately, President Muhammadu Buhari, our Commander in Chief, to call the soldiers to order and bring the situation under control.

“We call on citizens with access to these institutions to intervene to stop the carnage. A scorched earth policy as is presently being conducted is a rebuke to the training and discipline of the Nigerian army, and an affront to Nigerian Law.

“Reprisal by the army, however self-righteous, cannot replace the due process of law,” it continued.

They also appealed to Ayade to countermand his instructions to the army so as to avoid more loss of innocent lives.

“The State government should also revisit and implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of enquiry over the crisis as this will bring the crisis to an end and save citizens the annual embarrassment and risk that these clashes pose to all of us.”

Elders of Nko community, led by Dr. Akpama Mbang Akpama and former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani at a news conference, lamented the atrocities reportedly committed by the army and begged them to halt for sake of humanity.

Meanwhile, former presidential aide, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla said the reprisal attacks by the army constitute war crimes.

He called on the Federal Government to order an investigation of the soldiers and culprits brought to book.

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