Nigeria’s foremost human rights organisation, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has called for a full investigation into the killing of unarmed protestors by a Joint Military Taskforce in Onitsha on December 2, 2015.
In a statement delivered to The Trent on Saturday, December 5, 2015, CLO provided a background of the pro-Biafra protests in which police officers and soldiers acting on orders from the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase opened fire on non-violent civilians who were protesting the unlawful detention Nnamdi Kanu of one of the leaders of the self-determination group, Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).
The protests which was staged in Onitsha, Anambra State was coordinated by IPOB and another self-determination group, Movement for the Actualisation of the Republic of Biafra (MASSOB).
Eleven people were killed by security agents on that day including Vivian Emeka a 21-year-old female student of the Federal College of Education, Umunze, and several more injured and hospitalised.
CLO calls for a full investigation into the killings and the violation of the human rights of citizens by the state of Nigeria. The organisation, also called for justice for the victims. “The CLO views the shooting of armless civilians by soldiers and other security agents in Onitsha, especially at the odd hour of 1:30 am as a case of gross violation of human rights, use of excessive force and a crime against humanity,” the statement read.
“This barbaric act has no place in a modern society as it also gravely undermines all UN, AU and other international, regional and national human rights mechanisms.
“Nothing, whatsoever, can justify this flagrant infraction on the rights of the citizens. Absolutely nothing!”
Read the full statement below:
JOINT MILITARY TASKFORCE SHOOT INTO ARMLESS PROTESTERS AT 1:30 AM IN ONITSHA, ANAMBRA STATE; KILL VIVIAN EMEKA AND 10 OTHERS, MANY SEVERELY INJURED, OVER 100 HELD IN CUSTODY IN ABUJA AS ABUSE OF COURT ORDERS PERSIST: CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANIZATION (CLO) CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION, JUSTICE.
No fewer than 11 protesters were allegedly shot to death with numerous others severely injured when a contingent of heavily armed Joint Task force of Army, Navy, Police and Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corps attacked thousands of armless Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) protesters early hours of Wednesday, December 2, 2015, in Onitsha, Anambra State, South East Nigeria, IPOD sources say. Among those killed by the joint military operation was a 21 year-old Vivian Emeka. Efforts are still being made to get the particulars of other deceased victims. Those injured are said to be receiving serious medical attention at undisclosed hospitals in the city while over one hundred others are reported to have been detained in Abuja by the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
IPOD members are protesting the continued incarceration of their leader and the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who has been arrested and detained by the Nigerian authorities since October 1, 2015. Kanu was arrested by security agents at the Murtala Mohammed airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on his arrival from the United Kingdom. Since then, he has been held in detention even against a Court Order which granted him bail. The order has not been appealed against by the authorities. The last time the matter was heard by the court was November 23, 2015. When the matter came up on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the presiding Magistrate was absent because he lost his father. The matter was said to have been adjourned till December 16, 2015, but IPOB members were not happy over the “continued illegal detention and mindless torture” of their leader in custody against a subsisting Order of Court. Unconfirmed sources claim that Mr. Kanu would be charged for terrorism. His wife, Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, is under eight month pregnancy and claims that her husband is terribly sick, denied medical attention and may be killed in detention in the hands of Nigerian government. On December 1, Kanu was returned to DSS detention camp as the court did not sit.
Consequently, IPOB members who thronged the court in Abuja to cheer their leader were dismayed by the ugly development and, thereafter, marched to the British High Commission in Nigeria where they were intercepted, teargased and brutally prevented from entering the High Commission by Nigerian security operatives. Over 100 IPOB members were allegedly arrested, and till the time of this release, held in detention. Angered by the continued detention of Kanu in defiance of a court Order and further detention of well over 100 IPOB members, their colleagues in the South East region, the home base of IPOB, started what was described as a “Solidarity Protest” in the commercial cities of Onitsha, Aba, Nnewi and other major towns in the region.
The Onitsha Protesters were said to have blocked the head bridge area of Onitsha and prevented free flow of traffic to and fro the commercial nerve centre till their leader and members were released by the authorities. But at an odd time of 1:30 am, Wednesday, heavily armed soldiers, Navy officials, police and men and officers of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corps stormed the venue of the protest and started sporadic shooting into the crowd during which time Vivian Emeka, female, 21, and 9 others were heartlessly shot to death and numerous other armless citizens severely injured.
It has become the tradition of the Nigerian authorities to rudely disobey court orders. This, we fear, may seriously threaten our civil rule and viciously return our society to the yester years of impunity, terror and executive lawlessness. Only few weeks ago, the court Order granted to the National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, to travel overseas for medical treatment, was disobeyed by the Nigerian government. His house has been under siege since the court order was granted without the repeal of the order by a court of higher jurisdiction. On Tuesday, the former Chairman of Daar Communications, Dr Raymond Dokpesi was allegedly detained on oral invitation to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, an act constitutional lawyers say amounted to the breach of the law. We are ashamed to learn that Dr. Dopkesi is allegedly remanded on the primitive Holding Charge (colonial) Law which is no longer in the legal code of our country. CLO, though in absolute support of the war against corruption by the current government, will not support impudent violation of the rights of the citizens by the authorities acting in contrary to the provisions of the law, no matter the excuse. Even where murder allegation is involved, nothing can justify the abuse of the rule of law, human rights and due process while the matter is being investigated. It looks odd to parade and hold suspects who are being investigated by security agents in guilt as if they have been found guilty by the courts.
The CLO views the shooting of armless civilians by soldiers and other security agents in Onitsha, especially at the odd hour of 1:30 am as a case of gross violation of human rights, use of excessive force and a crime against humanity. This barbaric act has no place in a modern society as it also gravely undermines all UN, AU and other international, regional and national human rights mechanisms. Nothing, whatsoever, can justify this flagrant infraction on the rights of the citizens. Absolutely nothing !
On the war against corruption, while CLO maintains zero tolerance for corruption and other social vices and crimes, we shall strongly continue to disassociate ourselves from the violation of our laws and human rights on the altar of fighting graft and other crimes in Nigeria. CLO, in a very strong term, condemns this abuse of the Constitution by the Nigerian authorities and demand the return to the use of due process and respect for the rule law in addressing corruption issues. This kind of exercise was last experienced in Nigeria in 1999 and 2000 when the Obasanjo regime sacked Odi community in Bayelsa and Zaki-Biam in Benue states through executive terror and lawlessness. We urge the Nigerian government to deploy the energies and resources being wasted on armless citizens to confronting more serious issues of Boko haram and other criminal elements whose activities terrorise and ravage our country, which have turned our young soldiers’ wives into widows in our barracks, children into orphans and our communities into IDPs camps. The time and resources employed in executing a war against armless and hapless citizens cannot do us any good.
CLO urges the federal government to handle the agitation issue by the youth in the South East and any other parts of the country with care so that it does not escalate into a full blown crisis. Nigerians cannot afford to fight two or more wars at the same time. Meanwhile, reports are ripe that the ethnic rights activists in the Niger Delta popularly called militants have started regrouping for actions against the Federal Government.
In view of the foregoing, therefore, CLO demands as follows:-
- That the National Assembly and the National Human Rights Commission conduct full, unbiased, thorough and honest Investigations into the alleged shooting , killing and injuring of innocent and armless citizens in Onitsha, Anambra state, with the view to getting to the root of the heinous act and ensuring that justice was absolutely done.
- That Mr. Nnamdi Kanu whose wife, Mrs Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, is under 8 month pregnancy and whose bail has been ordered by the court be released immediately in consonance with the provisions of our law. CLO insists that the continued detention and torture of Nnamdi Kanu against the order of a Court is an invitation to crisis and anarchy.
- Immediate and unconditional release of all the unlawfully detained IPOB protesters across Nigeria, and;
- A stop to unlawfully using security agents to rudely violate our laws, infringe on human rights of the citizens , disobey due process and remand suspects beyond the limit of the law.
- While as a Pan Nigerian human rights organization we hold tenaciously to one just, equitable and free Nigeria, we wish to note that protest is an inalienable right of the people while the rights to demand for justice, equity and accountability on one hand, and the right to self -determination on another, are enforceable under the UN and AU regulations.
Comrade Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike,