Magnus Eze, Enugu, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Felix Ikem, Nsukka and Romanus Okoye
Tongues have continued to wag over last Sunday’s clash between security forces and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which claimed lives on both sides and left several others injured. Some arrest were also made.
But the police has said it would not rush in charging to court those arrested and detained.
Spokesman of the state Police Command, Daniel Ndukwe, explained that investigations were ongoing, adding that they would be prosecuted afterward.
Regardless, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) said the attack was a callous and premeditated mass murder.
Leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu in a statement issued in Owerri, yesterday, claimed it was an attempt by the Federal Government to demoralise Igbo and weaken their aspiration of ruling the country in 2023.
It said the attack was the “worst, barbaric and primitive reactionary measure of a combine security agents of Nigeria against the perceived enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kinsmen, called the Fulanis. It is all about wounding the morale of Igbo socio-political leaders. It is about creating fear among Ndigbo towards 2023. Ndigbo must rise in defence of our fatherland. An injustice to an Igbo is injustice against all Igbo, irrespective of political differences. The presidency is using pro-Biafra agitators as their testing ground of wounding and inflicting injurious blows that will demoralise the chances of Igbo political emancipation in 2023.
“They knew that pro-Biafra agitators are a heavy factor reckoned with in 2023 towards Igbo political emancipation. MASSOB reiterat its earlier resolve that no amount of treacherous and subtle clampdown, attacks, killings, arrest, prosecution by the way of the Nigeria state will deter us from Biafra actualisation.”
In its reaction, IPOB, yesterday, accused the Nigerian police and army of abandoning their core duty of chasing and arresting bandits, terrorists and violent criminals to killing innocent and armless Biafrans.
The group also demanded that the army and police be classified as terrorist.
Media and Publicity secretary of the group, Emma Powerful who stated this in a statement in Owerri, yesterday, said security operatives have looked away on arm carrying groups, only to descend on IPOP members who he said do not bear arms.
“Oduduwa Amotekun are armed, Fulani Miyetti Allah are armed, Fulani terror herdsmen are armed, Fulani funded bandits are armed, Fulani Ansaru brigade is armed. They all gather in public without any military interference. But as soon as Biafran youths congregate in any location to pray, every Nigerian military formation including police, DSS, army, air force stationed in Biafraland will descend on them firing indiscriminately with the intention of killing as many innocent people as possible because IPOB is a peaceful movement. The army and police must be designated as the terrorist groups that they are because when it comes to killing of Biafrans, they are infinitely worse than Boko Haram and ISWAP put together. We Biafrans must defend our lives,” Powerful said.
An Igbo socio-cultural think tank with members both in Nigeria and the diaspora, Nzuko Umunna, called on Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to as a matter of urgency, constitute judicial commission of inquiry into the issue. It urged the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu to direct coroner inquest into the dastard incident.
In a statement by its coordinator, Ngozi Odumuko and secretary, Paschal Mbanefo, the group said it viewed with shock and deep concern the extra-judicial killing.
“Nzuko Umunna notes that there are widespread reports that these extra-judicial killings took place when security operatives invaded a peaceful meeting of the youths, while the Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Abdurahman, conceded that many of the youths “escaped with bullet wound and police have started tracing them.
“It is noteworthy that extra-judicial killings are a violation of the right to life as enshrined in Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
It called on the South East Governors Forum (SEGF) and South East Joint Security Committee to urgently activate the long-awaited regional security network to reassure citizens on the security of lives and property.
On his part, Chairman, Board of Trustees of Intersociety said that the Enugu incident was the 15th of well-coordinated massacres by Nigerian security forces.
According to Intersociety, “Such massacres, started on 30th August 2015 had taken place in Onitsha, Enugu, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Asaba on 30th August 2015, Onitsha again on 2nd and 17th Dec 2015, Aba on 29th Jan and 9th Feb 2016, Onitsha, Nkpor and Asaba on 29th and 30th May 2016, Port Harcourt on 20th Jan 2017, Aba, Isiala Ngwa, Ogwe and Umuahia on 11th to 14th Sept 2017, Oraifite-Anambra on 2nd Dec 2019 (State terrorism) and Emene-Enugu on Sunday, 23rd August 2020; bringing the total number of such massacres to at least fifteen, involving killing of now over 500 defenceless Judeo-Christian citizens of old Eastern Nigeria extraction and injuring of over 550 others.”
A youth group under the aegis of “Save Enugu Youths Initiative” has warned the Federal Government to desist from further onslaught against armless citizens or face civil disobedience.
In a statement jointly signed by the state coordinator and convener of the group, Chibueze Nwoga and Gwiyi Solomon, it challenged President Buhari to bring the perpetrators to book to forestall future occurrence.
“The butchering of innocent and defenceless young people who were not carrying arms simply because they were having a meeting and are known as IPOB members was the craziest action ever taken by the federal government’s controlled security agents.
“The constitionality of any group, including IPOB holding peaceful meetings anywhere, within the Nation’s territory cannot be questioned as the Constitution guarantees association of the country’s citizens, anywhere.
“Our question remains where did the Nigerian police and other Federal Government security agents got the power to attack and kill armless Nigerians in Emene, Enugu state. As at last check, it is clear the Constitution protects the country’s citizens from gathering anywhere, as it guarantees the freedom of association. Now it is evidently clear, the police have acted in contravention of the law, and must be prosecuted by the attorney general of the Nation or rist civil disobedience from the citizens of the nation.”