A pro-democracy and non-governmental body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on the Nigerian military high command and President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately halt the incessant physical intimidation and harassment of residents of South-east of Nigeria by armed security forces.
HURIWA also condemned the undue and excessive militarisation of the South-east of Nigeria even as the group asked the military high command to respect the constitutional rights of the citizens residing in any part of Nigeria to enjoy all the fundamental rights enshrined in chapter four of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
In a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also demanded a transparent investigation of the reported use of lethal weapons by the Army in Umuahia, Abia State capital targeting suspected loyalists of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
HURIWA noted what it described as the mutual suspicions and disharmony between civilians of the South-east and the Nigerian military, as well as the progressive deterioration of trust and confidence of the South-east public towards the military.
The rights group alleged that armed security forces are never deployed to check the frequent attacks of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen but are deployed for political assignments such as unnecessarily to harass ordinary citizens in their attempt to exhibit a show of force against (IPOB).
HURIWA said the high number of deployment of operatives of the armed security forces and the unusual movements of heavy military weapons and equipment in the South-east and parts of the crude oil rich South-south states in a peace time portrays the impression of an emergency or a war situation.
It described the militarisation of the South-east as undemocratic and an inhibition to the enjoyment of the constitutionally guaranteed human right provisions.
â€œMay we urge the military hierarchies to strive to be professional in the command and control of armed operatives of the armed security forces. The undue militarization of the civic space to cajole, harass, intimidate and overwhelm unarmed and peaceful members of the public in the South East is seen as an attempt by the current administration to orchestrate anarchy and civil unrest so as to find the flimsiest of excuses to create chaos and engineer mass killings of innocent citizens in the guise of going after members in indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB)â€.
â€œWe hereby appeal to president Buhari to deescalate this ongoing militarization of the peaceful South-east/South-south region, and properly redirect the military efforts towards combating the resurgence of terrorism in the restive North-east of Nigeria by armed Islamists of Boko Haram.â€
â€œWe are worried that even when Amnesty International and other indigenous non-governmental organisations have raised concerns about the high numbers of persons who disappear whilst they encounter armed security forces, the Nigerian government has continued to militarize the South-east and South-south which are largely peaceful.â€
â€œWhy the military action against a totally unarmed and peaceful self-determination group such as IPOB? Why are there too many police and army check points in the South-east that engage in constant extortions and harassment of road users?,â€ HURIWA explained.