Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, and other members of the Peoples Alternative Forum have raised the alarm over the invasion of the Azaghene community in the Ekemor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State by the Nigerian Army on July 23, 2019.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Chairman of the forum, Falana and the Secretary, Eze Naagu, the group alleged that during the invasion the armed troops looted property, raped women and burnt down all the houses in the community after chasing away residents, including the traditional ruler, His Royal Highness Awame Festus Oru.
“After chasing away the residents the armed troops have taken over the community. In justifying the illegal occupation of the community the spokesman for the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Major Danjuma Jonah claimed that ‘We are combing the community and neighbouring towns in search of one of the soldiers that is missing as a result of the attack that led to the death of two other soldiers.’
The group said it condemned the brutal killing of the two soldiers and the kidnap of another soldier by unidentified criminal elements.
It, however, urged the army authorities to withdraw the armed troops that are illegally occupying the community. “Since the Nigerian Army has no power to take the law into its hands, the search for the missing soldier cannot be a justification for chasing away the people of Azaghene community after destroying their houses and other valuable properties. Having regards to the facts and circumstances of the unfortunate killing of the two soldiers and the reprisal attack on the community by the Nigerian Army we hereby call on the Bayelsa State,” the statement explained.
The group urged the federal government to institute a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the civil disturbances and recommend appropriate monetary compensation for all the victims of the eggregious human rights abuses in the Azaghene community.