Group Accuses FG, Security Agents of Gross Human Rights Abuses

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Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of gross human rights violation aided by the activities of the security agencies.

This was contained in a detailed statement signed yesterday by the Board Chairman, Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, titled: “Ethnic Bloodshed, Rights Abuses & Other Regime Atrocities in Nigeria: Exposing The Conspiratorial Roles Of Some CSOs, Buhari Administration & Security Forces.”

Umeagbalasi in the statement gave instances of what the group viewed as the conspiratorial roles of the security agents, in the state of insecurity and killings across the country.

He noted that while the security agencies including the military, Nigerian Police and Department of State Services (DSS), were quick to act in arresting and quelling protests by members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), they were on the other hand slow to act in defence of the defenceless citizens in Agatu in Bunue and Nimbo at Uzo-Uwani in Enugu State massacred by suspected herdsmen.

The group also cited the speed with which the DSS alleged that about five “Hausa-Fulani” were killed and buried in a shallow grave but have been silent on the alleged killings of over 80 IPOB members and as well as the “butchery” of over 400 people in Agatu, Nimbo and other parts of the country by the suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Part of the statement read: “As recently as Saturday, April 30, 2016, the Governor of Enugu State, Hon Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, made a shocking revelation of how relevant security chiefs in the State including the CP and the GOC of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army were duly informed over eight hours before the Ukpabi-Nimbo Fulani killings, yet they could not do anything. The State CP, Ekechukwu Nwodibo, obviously acting on a script from the above, had after the butchery claimed that “hoodlums not Fulani herders (Janjaweed) carried out the killings”.

“Recently, 76 unarmed and innocent natives of Ugwuneshi Autonomous Community in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State were arrested and tortured by soldiers of the 144 Battalion in Abia State; detained and influenced a feeble magistrate to remand them in prison for fifteen days for protesting against the menace of the Fulani herders and their armed Janjaweed in their area. As if that was not enough, the DSS recently arranged a press conference where it accused IPOB of “killing five Hausa-Fulani civilians.” The accusation turned out to be watery, vexatious and grossly unsubstantiated. In the Agatu and Ukpabi-Nimbo (Uzo Uwani) butcheries by the Fulani Janjaweed, in which over 300-400 defenseless citizens mostly women and children were killed; the DSS has not said anything or arrested anybody till date.

“Just recently, the Commissioner of Police Anambra State, CP Hosea Karma publicly claimed that ‘IPOB and MASSOB activities’, were his major security headache. How nonviolent protests guaranteed in democratic society and the Constitution have become violent crimes warranting the CP’s security headache, has not been publicly explained by the CP till date”.

Speaking further, Umeagbalasi alleged that a frightening dimension has been introduced into the security situation in the South East and South South geopolitical zones whereby security agents have now disguised as cobblers and hawker in order to penetrate nooks and crannies of the region for intelligence gathering “coordinated operation”
According to him, there are continuing reports of sponsored security personnel particularly members of the armed forces posing as “alamajari” shoe makers or shoe shiners, “Mai-ruwa” (water fetchers), beggars, finger nail cutters, and barrow pushers flooding the streets of southern cities particularly those of the Southeast and the South-south regions for the purpose of embarking on well coordinated intelligence gathering missions for Hausa-Fulani oligarchs.

He said: “ From Nnewi to Onitsha; Awka to Ekwulobia; Abakiliki to Enugu; Umuahia to Aba; Owerri to Port Harcourt; the number of cities under siege by those marauding elements is many to be named.

“In Nnewi, Anambra State, for instance, a doctor of a teaching hospital recently ran into an officer he knew way back in the north, called Sani, whom he saw posing as a shoe shiner along a road in Nnewi.”

On shouting his name twice, the officer-soldier saw and recognized him; took to his heel and abandoned his shoe shining basket. In Owerri, Imo State, there was also a case of another soldier posing as shoe maker, whose identity card dropped from his pocket and a person nearby picked it and discovered that he is a serving soldier of the northern extraction.”
“At Ekwulobia, Anambra State, there was a heated argument between a supposedly shoe maker of northern extraction and his customer; leading to a near-fist cuff and along the line, an identity card of the supposed shoe maker dropped from his pocket and he turned out to be a soldier of the northern extraction. Other instances abound.”

Speaking further, Umeagbalasi expressed the group’s shock at what he termed “conspiracy of silence” by the mainstream human rights activists from the South West and as well as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the ongoing “killings” in parts of the country.

He said that “the conspiracy of silence has become the permanent policy of the referenced activist-CSOs; to the extent that till date, no firm advocacy statements or proactive advocacy steps have emanated from them concerning all the evidential regime atrocities associated with the Buhari administration particularly the massacre of over 80 members and supporters of IPOB and maiming of over 170 others in Onitsha, Aba and other key cities of Southeast and South-south regions.”

“Their conspiracy of silence has also been extended to other regime and non regime atrocities such as recent Agatu and Ukpabi-Nimbo (Uzo Uwani) butcheries by the Fulani Janjaweed. Where any statement is rarely issued, it is empty, advisory, defensive and utterly establishment oriented,” he added.

The Intersociety also condemned what they viewed as alarming and shocking silence by the NHRC, saying that “the Commission has not only lost focus but it is also spineless and conspiratorial”.
Till date, the group noted, there is no single statement from the Commission condemning the massacres and butcheries under reference, despite enormity of powers and oversight functional mechanisms at its disposal.