By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned that the illegal killings of the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement of the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) during the commemoration of the 49yh year declaration of Biafra Republic could be dragged to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if not attended to.
This is as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in a statement yesterday raised the alarm over the fate of its dead members and those arrested during the bloody Biafra Day celebration, alleging of plans by security agencies to execute the detainees and give them mass burial along with those already killed. They alleged that they were shocked “to discover that the Nigeria Army and Police have decided to kill those they arrested alive and bury them with the dead bodies they carried.”
The Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko gave the warning at a press conference in Abuja, where he expressed shock over the high number of casualties of protesters killed by armed security operatives.
He noted that credible sources that were on ground in Onitsha, Anambra State, affirmed that scores of protesters were killed by armed security forces; even as there were also allegations that about 10 worshippers were killed by soldiers inside a Catholic Church in Nkpor, Anambra State.
According to him, “This violent suppression of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, peaceful Assembly and Movement by armed security forces is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
“We hereby condemn these killings and call on the Nigerian government to take credible, verifiable and transparent measures to ascertain why peaceful marchers were killed without provocation,” he added.
Onwubiko stated that from available body of evidence, both groups IPOB and MASSOB were not known to bear arms, stressing that the claim by a spokesman of the 82 Division of the Nigerian army claiming self-defense as the reason for the soldiers to have opened fire with live bullets into crowds of protesters was not tenable.
HURIWA therefore said it had resolved to approach the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and the Federal Attorney General Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) to investigate these killings and perpetrators brought to Justice.
Onwubiko warned: “The repercussions of allowing this impunity to remain unattended to is that individuals who hold direct command responsibilities such as the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, in all the security forces whereby these illegal killings of civilians have happened would be dragged to International Crimes Court for prosecution over crime against humanity.”
HURIWA also stated that Igbo elders stood to ignite a revolution if they refused to lead by example.
He condemned vehemently the Igbo delegation led by Senator Ken Nnamani who paid the president a visit a day after the killings of the protesters, saying that their refusal to address the press and to communicate to the people properly was a disgrace.
Onwubiko however called on the federal government to seek the help of United Nations to conduct a referendum since INEC had remained inefficient and inconclusive experts to determine what part of the country with to remain as part of the entity called Nigeria.
The rights group also commended the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari to clean up Ogoni land, but also called on him to extend the exercise to other affected states.
The IPOB members said, “As IPOB families and Biafrans mourn our dead brethrens with big hearts the Nigeria government and security agents are busy perfecting strategy to kill unarmed civilians they arrested during the events and bury all with the dead Biafrans in a mass grave within the Anambra state”.
IPOB also expressed anger at the attitude of Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, whom the group accused of visiting the Army Barracks at Onitsha and saw the dead bodies of slain activists and failed to intervene in the case of detainees.
According to IPOB, Obiano was quite aware that those arrested on the May 30 Remembrance Day “were being tortured to death by security agencies without charging them to court” yet the Anambra chief executive did not condemn it.
The group said that it was worried that Governor Obiano as the chief security officer of the state should be working to protect the people that elected him to office instead of “becoming the stooge to the Hausa Fulani terrorist group”.
IPOB further descended on Obiano for referring to those “who lost their lives because of our freedom during the genocidal war against the Biafran people in 1967 to 1970 as hoodlums”.
It said that the governor had alleged the organizers of the Remembrance Day “did not come and take permission to remember their dead ones in his state (hence) he ordered the security agents to kill and maim unarmed civilians who were not with any weapon or any sharp objects”