No fewer than 2,560 civilian citizens who are mostly innocent and law abiding were abducted by Nigerian security operatives in the first 167 days of 2021 (January 1 to June 17), “and held without trial, out of which not less than 620 were disappeared or feared killed in secrecy mainly by soldiers,” according to the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety).
The frontline rights group in a statement issued yesterday, Thursday, June 17, in Onitsha, Anambra State, alleged that “over 90% of the victims of the above conduct atrocities are innocent, falsely labeled and criminally stigmatized”.
The statement signed by Intersociety Chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head of Publicity, Chidimma Udegbunam, Esq., similarly alleged that “not less than 510 traceable deaths including victims of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks were also recorded.”
Below is the rest of the statement:
Abduction, Killing And False Labeling Of Religious Leaders And Custodians Of The Tradition
The Nigerian security forces in Eastern Nigeria are hatefully and indiscriminately killing and abducting defenseless, innocent and unarmed citizens and labeling them falsely. The security forces in total disregard to sacredness and sanctity of religious and traditional institutions and their custodians have also launched indiscriminate attacks on them, killing and abducting several of them and labeling and stigmatizing them. Since January 2021 in Eastern Nigeria and without concrete investigative evidence, not less than 70 Christian religious leaders and custodians of Traditional religions or their sacred altars have been killed extra-judicially or hatefully abducted and falsely labeled as “ESN/IPOB terrorists” or “native doctors preparing charms for ESN/IPOB hoodlums”.
Such hate killings and false labeling are also accompanied by burning down of dozens of Christian and Traditional Religion’s worship centers and desecration of their sacred symbols.
Among them were some 35-40 Christian religious leaders of the Jewish Religion and the African Instituted Churches, a branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria abducted in March and April 2021 by Army and Police in Orlu and environs and falsely labeled “ESN/IPOB hoodlums” and “native doctors preparing charms for ESN hoodlums”.
Several highly respected traditional herbalists have also been attacked and abducted or killed extra-judicially by soldiers and Police including the DCP Abba Kyari’s “IRT”.
Funny enough, witnesses have disclosed to Intersociety how the said security operatives dot their operational vehicles and bodies with deadly charms and hire malevolent medicine men to accompany them.
On June 12, 2021, Chief Duru Azubuike, a respected herbalist in Nguru, Mbaise, Imo State, was attacked and killed alongside his nephew by the Imo State Police Command and two days later, a censored statement claimed that: “they were killed by bandits/hoodlums”. On June 8, 2021, the Imo State Police Command falsely claimed to have “arrested two native doctors at Ukwuorji area of Mbaitoli of the State preparing charms for IPOB who also alongside seven others were involved in the attack on Gov Hope Uzodimma’s house at Omuma”.
The two were named as ‘Chinedu Nwakaire and Uzoamaka Ugoanyanwu (40 years old)’. But on investigation, Intersociety found that the two were just ‘tax collectors’ collecting tolls at Njaba River before allowing access to the visitors especially those from different religions who visit the River for solutions to their personal problems. The seven arrested persons were also found to be visitors to the River, arrested at the River side and falsely labeled.
On 11th June 2021, trucks loaded with soldiers and armored personnel carriers from 34 Brigade, Ohafia invaded Amangwu Ohafia in Abia State and principally targeted to abduct a respected and powerful herbalist, Uchechi Olu George. The soldiers also moved from house to house, abducting youths and labeling them “ESN/IPOB terrorists”.
The provoked situation and attempt to abduct the respected herbalist was physically and spiritually resisted leading to death of several soldiers which forced them to retreat and regroup and storm the Community in war-like style.
It was also alleged that a top official of the Government of Abia State was instrumental to the soldiers’ invasion following torching of his house three weeks ago and a lingering rift between him and the powerful herbalist and the youths of the area. In the end, soldiers abducted scores and killed Pius Nwachukwu Michael and one Samuel and injured others including Ndubuisi Agwu and Eke Uche.
They also set six houses, four vehicles and three motorcycles on fire and burnt them beyond recognition. The five paramount traditional rulers of the Ohafia Kingdom have also bemoaned incessant harassments and attacks by soldiers on the ancient Community and its clans including mass labeling them as “ESN/IPOB terrorists/supporters”.
They also cried out saying that ‘soldiers have turned them and their land into IDP camp. Same was the case with the traditional rulers in Esien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State who addressed the media on 13th June 2021 lamenting incessant intimidation, harassment and attacks on them and their defenseless natives by soldiers and police. The attacks include abductions, extrajudicial killings and falsely labeling them “ESN/IPOB terrorists/supporters”.
Killing And False Labeling Of Over 30 Innocent Citizens At Ariaria Junction, Aba
On 23rd April 2021, an attempted attack was launched at an Army Roadblock at Ariaria Junction, near the crowded Ariaria International Market in Aba and the attackers retreated and escaped without combative casualty.
Reinforcement of soldiers was sent from 144 Battalion and the drafted soldiers opened fire on innocent citizens including nearby shoe makers, Keke riders and other passersby, killing at least 30 and abducting scores of others.
The shooting started between 7.30pm and 8pm of same day. Out of those killed, seventeen bodies were dumped at the Old Abia State Teaching Hospital (now mortuary).
The soldiers and police picked some of the dead bodies and paraded them as “bodies of ESN gunmen killed while trying to attack soldiers at Ariaria Junction”.
As if that was not enough, soldiers gathered over a dozen innocent citizens abducted from the scene and shot them dead at night of the same day.
Two of those killed have been identified in the video as Nzubechukwu Nwaigwe, 35 years from Umuneke, Ehime-Mbano in Imo State and one “Ambassador”, who was a gateman/electrician at a property located near the Ariaria Market and a native of Osiri in Ezza Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Intersociety had studied and shared a video of the shooting possibly given out discreetly by one of the soldiers to an informant who shared same elsewhere.
Among the seventeen slain innocent citizens dumped in the said Government mortuary, three have been identified as Citizens David Chukwuka, 21 years old from Igboeze North in Enugu who was a shoe maker at Ariaria Market, Ifeanyi Thomas, 28 years old Ariaria Market based shoe maker and a native of Ozuitem in Bende, Abia State and Okoro Alums, 26 years old Ariaria Market based shoe maker and a native of Amasiri in Ebonyi State.
Killing And False Labeling Of Over Ten Innocent Citizens At Enyeogugu, Abor-Mbaise
On 30th May 2021, the Nigerian military personnel stormed Enyeogugu Market Square in Abor-Mbaise and opened fire killing at least ten innocent citizens and injured others.
The Imo State Police Command was immediately contacted and some of the bodies were gathered and later paraded as “bodies of ESN/IPOB gunmen that killed Barr Ahmed Gulak who met their waterloo in exchange of gunfire with gallant security operatives”.
The Police claim was investigated by Intersociety and it was found that there was an attack at a police station and the attackers were blocked with a lorry loaded with onions by some Northern Muslims in the area, forcing the gunmen to shoot in the air in anger and scatter baskets-loads of onions which opened the road route leading to their escape without any loss of life.
The passersby including church goers and returnees, Okada and Keke riders and others cashed in and were scrambling for the onions when soldiers arrived the scene and opened fire, killing not less than ten and injuring others.
The next day, being 31st May 2021, personnel of the 211 Regiment, Nigerian Air Force in Owerri stormed the place with their vehicles and engaged in wanton shop to shop looting and molestation leading to carting away of goods worth millions of naira, looted from at least 20 shops.
The Member, representing Abor Mbaise/Ngo Okpala Federal Constituency in the House of Reps, Hon Bede Eke also cried out on 3rd June 2021, saying that ‘security agencies are killing his constituents’. He gave the names of some of the slain victims as Noel Chigbu Nzeribe and Tochi Ekwe, among others.
Other Innocent Citizens Killed And Falsely Labeled
On 3rd June 2021, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna visited the Federal Medical Center, Owerri and saw not less than 35 freshly slain corpses dumped by soldiers and police at the mortuary section of the FMC.
He had earlier visited the Owerri Prisons on 26th May and saw 106 citizens freshly brought and dumped in the Prisons.
These are contained in the Saturday Vanguard of 5th June 2021. On 29th May 2021, following an attack at the Abia State CID, Umuahia, soldiers and police went on rampage, abducting and killing dozens of innocent citizens.
The attackers have attacked and escaped uncaught only for soldiers and police to invade houses and abducted dozens of innocent citizens. Soldiers alone abducted not less than 40 and eight of those they abducted and handed over to the Police the same night were gathered and shot dead and paraded as “bodies of armed ESN/IPOB killed in exchange of gunfire with gallant security operatives who repelled attack at the State CID Headquarters at Umuahia”.
Among the eight innocent citizens abducted in their house the same evening and killed same night are: Obinna Onyebuchi Egekwu, 30 years old young father of two and his nephew, Onyebuchi Anthony Amadi, 27 years old.
They hailed from Umuahia in Abia State. Till date, the whereabouts of over 40 others abducted and taken away by soldiers have remained unknown.
Citizen Oguchi Unachukwu, a Germany based Businessman was shot and killed by personnel of the 211 Regiment of the Nigerian Air Force in Owerri. He was killed on 1st June 2021 at the entrance Gate of Sam Mbakwe Air Port in Owerri on his way back to Germany.
Citizen Oliver Mmaduakolam, an Owerri based millionaire businessman was shot and killed by soldiers on 25th May 2021. He was returning from a business trip outside Owerri when soldiers shot and killed him.
Citizen Ifeanyi Obi, 45 years old father of three and prospering shoe manufacturer at ‘Bakkasi Market’, Ariaria International Market, Aba and a native of Egwe in Oguta, Imo State was among those five citizens shot and killed by soldiers and police in Imo State on Sunday, 6th June 2021 and later paraded as “bodies of ESN/IPOB gunmen killed in exchange of gunfire with gallant security operatives while trying to attack the Imo State Police Headquarters”.
He had traveled home on Friday, 4th June alongside his wife’s younger brother, Chima for the latter’s uncle’s burial and boarded a bus going back to Aba on Sunday, 6th June when gunshots rented the air at Alvan Ikoku axis, forcing the vehicle he was traveling with to hurriedly dispatch all passengers.
Late Ifeanyi and his in-law ran in different directions to escape flying Army and Police bullets. Soldiers stormed where he took refuge at an open place and shot him dead.
The Imo State Police Command later paraded him alongside four others and labeled him falsely. The Police also removed his trousers and placed a pump action gun across his body to publicly portray him as a common criminal caught and killed in the act. Instances are too numerous to mention.