81 Igbo-Christian communities under terror, brigandage — Intersociety

Posted by News Express | 15 November 2022 | 646 times

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•Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.-Gen. Lucky Irabor


•Says military operations aiding Jihadist Fulani herdsmen’s incursion into Eastern forests since 2016


The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused the Nigerian military of aiding and abetting Jihadist Fulani herdsmen’s invasion of forests in the south east and Igbo parts of Kogi, Nassarawa and Benue states since 2016.

According to its special report in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria on Monday, November 14, 2022 signed by its principal officers; Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche Esquire, Obianuju Joy Igboeli Esquire and Chidinma Udegbunam Esquire, “the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen were militarily aided to invade and occupy not less than 700 locations.”

It reads: “The armed Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen’s jihadist incursion into the East particularly in forests, farmlands and bushes of Delta State, Edo State, Ebonyi State, Anambra State, Enugu State, Imo State, Abia State, Rivers State, Cross River State, Akwa Ibom and some parts of Bayelsa State and Igbo parts of Kogi, Nassarawa and Benue States in the North-Central was aided and abetted during the military operations starting from the first Nigerian military operation in 2016. This is to the extent that the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen were militarily aided to invade and occupy not less than 700 locations in the three Regions above mentioned. The jihadist invasion and occupation had taken place between beginning of 2016 and last quarter of 2018-with their reinforcements sustained since then under the watch and protection of the military; leading to emergence of counter jihadist non state actor armed opposition groups. The military siege and terror enveloping the joint communal forest (“Be Atunshi Forest”) of Egudene (Akpawfu), Amechi Idoodo and Amegunze Communities in Nkanu-East of Enugu State is a clear case in point. It was found by Intersociety in 2021 that the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen staged a fierce come back in 2021 aided by the military after being communally dislodged in March 2020. This also led to not less than six military raids, killings and civilian house property burnings or destructions in Akpawfu Community and environs since 2021. According to a former Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of ICT, Retired DIG Ozo Celestine Okoye, “Fulani Herdsmen armed with AK-47 Riffles had already occupied 332 locations in the South-East alone”. See the New Telegraph Newspaper of 27th March 2021.” 

“There are no fewer than 81 Igbo communities presently under military siege and terror. The military siege and terror in the affected communities are perpetrated through permanent or temporal military occupation of the areas or constant military patrols with attendant atrocious and other internationally prohibited conducts. The communities are: Izombe/Oguta, Imo State; interior parts of Ogbaru, Anambra State; Amangwu-Ohafia and its neighbors in Ohafia; Uturu and its environs in Abia State; Asa, Ogwe, Isialangwa, Etche  and Owerre-Nta in Abia State; Egudene (Akpawfu)/Amechi Idoodo/Amegunze in Nkanu-East, Enugu State; Amichi/Ebenator/Ukpor, Anambra State; Uli, Orsumoghu, Lilu, Amorka and Ihiala in Ihiala, Anambra State; Ihitenansa, Orsu-Ihiteukwa, Eziawa and Umuhu-Okabia in Orsu, Imo State; Awomama, Amiri and Akatta in Oru East; Omuma, Otulu and Mgbidi in Oru West, Imo State; Ajalli, Ufuma, Ndiokolo and Awgbu in Orumba North; Nando, Nsugbe, Aguleri, Igbariam, Umueri and Umuleri in Anambra East, Umunya and Nteje in Oyi; Omor, Igbakwu, Anaku and Omasi in Ayamelum; Agulu in Anaocha, Amansea, Achalla and Ebenebe in Awka South; Umunze, Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunka in Orumba South, Anambra State; Ogwa and Mbaitoli in Mbaitoli, Imo State; Orlu and its environs in Imo State; Umunneochi and its environs in Abia State; Okigwe and its environs in Imo State; Isiukwuato and its environs in Abia State; Ohaji-Egbema and its environs in Imo State; Obigbo and Ikwere in Rivers State; Nsukka, Uzo-Uwani, Igbo-Eze North/South and Igbo-Etiti and parts of Isi-Uzo in Enugu State; Ozalla-Nkanu West and parts of Udi, Ani-Nri, Awgu and Ugwuogo-Nike-Opi Nsukka Axis in Enugu State; and Efium and Ezza in Ohaukwu, Egedege/Ishielu, Ishiagu, Afikpo, Onicha and Abakiliki metropolis in Ebonyi State.

“The military siege and terror in the named 81 Igbo-Christian communities have not only become a reoccurring decimal but also heightened Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks and attacks by well-armed street criminal entities. It was observed in the course of this Special Investigation that about 70% of the named communities host highest concentration of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen invasion and their jihadist genocidal attacks since 2016 (Ukpabi-Nimbo). Many of the affected 81 communities are also under attacks by non state actor street criminal entities including gangs of kidnappers, armed robbers, cultists, ritualists and criminal miners of solid minerals. In other words, the affected communities have continued to record the highest incidences of the trio of military terror, jihadist attacks and attacks by well-armed street criminal/counterfeiting entities. These are despite the fact that the communities record the highest presence or concentration of military and police deployments. It was further investigated and observed that the deployed security forces in the areas have been turning their guns and sworn duties against innocent and defenseless road users and local inhabitants and channel same into protecting the jihadist and street criminal gangs as well as aiding and abetting their criminalities including partaking in kidnapping, mining, robbery and jihadist attacks. Totality of these has forced the affected communities and visitor-road users into being militarily terrorized and inflicted with fears or severally killed, abducted, tortured, disappeared, sexually harassed-with their defenseless houses and other properties burned down or destroyed beyond repair and recognition.”

Consequently, Intersociety has blamed the Nigerian Government and its “disproportionate security postings and professional crudity” since 2016 as aiding military terror in the Eastern part of the country, as it leads to “open partisanship and hateful policing and soldiering by the deployed security forces.”

“There has been systematic policy of disproportionate and discriminatory internal security and defense high ranking postings by Nigerian Government and the country’s internal security and defense establishments. This has been the case in the East since 2016. In investigations carried out by Intersociety in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022, it was observed that about 95% of the heads of security and defense formations in the East have been allocated to senior security and defense officers from outside the East who are mainly Muslims; a clear evidence of the Government of Nigeria’s “structural violence” against the East. This is to the extent that the current GOC, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt is Major Gen Aminu Chinade (Northern Muslim), GOC 82 Division, Enugu is Major Gen Umar Musa (Northern Muslim), 34 Brigade Commander, Obinze is Brig Gen Sani Suleiman (Northern Muslim), 14 Brigade Commander, Ohafia is Brig Gen Adegoke Adetuyi (South-West indigene), Brig Commander, 2 Brigade, Uyo is Brig Gen Abubakar Wase (Northern Muslim), Commander, 302 Artillery of Nigerian Army, Onitsha is Col M.B. Abubakar (Northern Muslim), Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola is Air Officer Commanding Ground Tactical Command, Enugu; CP Mustapha Bala Mohammed is  Commissioner of Police, Abia State (Northern Muslim), CP Ahmed Ammani is CP, Enugu State (Northern Muslim), CP Muhammed Ali is CP, Delta State (Northern Muslim), CP Mohammed Ahmed Barde is CP, Imo State (Northern Muslim) and CP Aliyu Garba is CP, Ebonyi State (Northern Muslim). These are just to mention but a few.

“As a matter of fact, too, none of the four serving Police AIGs in the East in charge of Zone 6 Calabar (Kamaldeen Kola Okunlola), Zone 13 Awka (Abutu Yaro), Zone 5 Benin (Lawan Jimeta) and Zone 9 Umuahia (Isaac Akinmoyede) is from the East. It is further observed that at least 90% of the principal officers in all the military (army, navy and air force), police and spy-police formations in Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Edo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra and Abia States are in the hands of non-Easterners who are mainly Muslims. Totality of these explains the high incidence of hateful and discriminatory policing and soldiering in the East particularly in the South-East; to the extent that the ethnically and religiously lopsided security and defense chiefs in the East have designated citizens bearing Igbo-Christian names irrespective of their age bracket or gender as “criminal class”.

“Intersociety has documented pieces of evidence showing how deployed security forces open fire on defenseless passers-by around the crime scenes; killing them and labeling them “gunned down unknown gunmen or IPOB/ESN members”. Soldiers also hide under flimsy excuses to launch deadly attacks on several communities, killing locals and setting their houses ablaze.

“Few days ago at Izombe-Oguta in Imo State, houses were burned down and scores killed on account of alleged killing of a Dangote Truck Driver by non state actor gunmen. In Isuofia-Aguata, Anambra State, a soldier escaping from the scene of unknown gunmen attack corked his riffle and killed a defenseless civilian running into his compound to escape the gunfire between soldiers and some armed persons.

“The open partisanship and hateful policing and soldiering by the deployed security forces and their commanders are so alarming and shocking that non-Easterners especially members of Muslim population living in the East are more protected and secured much more than members of the indigenous Eastern Christian population. The study done by Intersociety in 2021/2022 to ascertain the ethnic and religious identity composition of the Nigeria’s top security, defense and justice headships clearly indicated that “out of 22 of such top positions, Muslims are in control of 18”. These have corrupted and bastardized the principle of neutrality and secularism in the procedural and operational codes or guidelines of the country’s security and defense forces particularly in the East especially since June 2015.

“Today, “membership and sponsorship of IPOB/ESN” is recklessly and indiscriminately used by the deployed military and police crack squads in the East to unleash grisly and egregious terror on defenseless citizens of the region. The citizens in the Region are so profiled or discriminated against in the line of security duty that those arrested with Igbo-Christian names are instantly deemed as “condemned criminals” just because of their ethnic and religious identities.

“Members of other tribes particularly those bearing South-West (Yoruba) and Northern Muslim names are deemed ‘incapable of being felonious criminals” in the East. Intersociety has also investigated and found that citizens arrested at social functions or entertainment arenas in the East are instantly tagged “IPOB/ESN members” or “mothers/fathers/wives/sons/daughters/in-laws/sisters/brothers/relatives/girlfriends of IPOB/ESN members”. Arrested suspected street felons (.i.e. armed robbery suspects and suspected cultists, hired killers, property thieves, rapists, drug/human traffickers, kidnappers, murderers, carjackers, shoplifters, cyber criminals, solid mineral criminal miners etc) are routinely paraded publicly as “IPOB/ESN members” and later shot and killed or detained and tortured to death or held incommunicado for years without trial. Heavily pregnant mothers or those in the hospital labor wards are tagged “wives or sisters of IPOB/ESN members” and abducted and humiliated,” the report said.

Source: News Express

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