(Onitsha Nigeria, 22nd of September 2016)-It has come to the notice of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law that the Nigerian Security Forces particularly the Nigerian Army, are at it again. Our extensive investigations clearly indicate that ahead of tomorrow’s Sit-At-Home protest organized by leading Pro Biafra groups particularly the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); there are heavy deployment of soldiers in all nooks and crannies of the Southeast and the South-South parts of Nigeria; with the Southeast being the worst affected.
By close-source and open-source information available to us, the most affected States are Anambra and Abia; followed by Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu. In the South-south are Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Most affected cities now under siege are Onitsha and Aba. Others are Owerri, Enugu, Umuahia, Abakiliki, Asaba, Okigwe, Nnewi and Nkpor. As at this morning, there are heavy presence of soldiers in major areas of Onitsha and Aba.
As a matter of fact, we saw passersby retiring home from work and trade being frog-jumped and whipped by soldiers at Upper Iweka and Onitsha Niger Bridge areas of Onitsha in the evening of yesterday. Before now, there had been frightening number of military check-points mounted along major Federal and State Roads and other strategic junctions and intersections in the Southeast part of Nigeria. Most of these soldiers are of northern Muslim extractions with entrenched culture of ethnic bias and hatred.
Further reports have it that more reinforcements will be moved from the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu between 10am today and 5am tomorrow morning to Onitsha, Aba, Umuahia, Port Harcourt and Abakiliki. Some road users have also informed Intersociety of long military convoys moving towards Onitsha, Aba, etc, from the Enugu 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army.
Totality of these is that Southeast is under siege despite total absence of non-State actor security threats. It alarms and worries us at Intersociety as why an indoor-protest will warrant such State obsessive and crude security reactions. Which is why we held and still hold correctly that the flooding of the Southeast and the South-south; particularly the Southeast with battalions of soldiers is for the purpose of repeating the May 30, 2016 Mayhem at Nkpor. It is recalled that dozens of innocent citizens numbering as much as 110 were massacred in hours and scores of others terminally injured by Nigerian Army, after which most of their bodies were picked and later buried in 15 mass graves inside Onitsha Army Barracks.
The most shocking and horrible part of it is that scores of those shot and killed were passersby, onlookers, artisans working in their work places; traders trading in their provision stores and citizens returning from early church services. For instance, three innocent citizens returning from their early morning mass service at St Edmunds Catholic Church along Umuoji Road, Nkpor were among those shot and killed; after which their bodies were picked and taken away by soldiers till date.
Though most members of the public including leading Christian bodies have since adjusted their programs for tomorrow in compliance with the Indoor or Sit-At-Home protest appeal, but the Nigerian Army has further aided same unprofessionally and crudely, by creating security panics and atmosphere most likely to result in mass murder or massacre of innocent members of the public; claiming that those shot and killed are those caught armed and enforcing sit-at-home or forcing people going about their lawful businesses back to their homes. These the Security Forces particularly soldiers will label “violent/armed IPOB or MASSOB Members”.
That is to say that the Nigerian Security Forces particularly the Nigerian Army have endangered any form of public movement tomorrow in the Southeast and the South-south parts of Nigeria, particularly in the cities of Onitsha, Asaba, Enugu, Nkpor, Umuahia, Owerri, Abakiliki, Nnewi, Aba, Port Harcourt and so on.
It is therefore too risky and death-prone for road users including traders, civil servants, school children, artisans, okada, keke and commercial bus drivers, etc to leave their homes tomorrow particularly in the Southeast part of Nigeria and South-south cities of Asaba, Port Harcourt, Uyo, etc. This is because they can get killed individually or in group by soldiers and their bodies taking away and bury secretly in mass graves. This is more so when most of the soldiers being drafted are serial ethnic cleansers and hate killers.
To avoid innocent members of the public being massacred by soldiers, navy and police personnel on their way to markets, offices, workstations, vehicular terminals and schools, all civil members of the public are called upon to stay off roads tomorrow and avoid risking their safety and lives. This passionate appeal should respectfully be fully complied with and acted upon and disseminated in all cities of the Southeast and the South-south parts of Nigeria.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc., Criminology & Security Studies; M.Sc. (c), Peace & Conflict Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., LLB, BL; LLM (c)
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
Chinwe Umeche, Esq., LLB, BL
Mobile Line: +2347013238673
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program