• Lawmakers demand probe of alleged killing of protesters in Port Harcourt
• We’ll invoke right to self-defence, says group
From Fred Itua, Abuja and Jeff Amechi
More than one month after they condemned the alleged killing of pro-Biafra protesters, South East senators have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order a thorough investigation into claims that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who held a pro-Donald Trump rally in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, were killed by security agents.
This is coming at a time when IPOB has threatened to invoke the right to self-defence if security agencies continued to kill their members.
IPOB had alleged that a combined team of the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Army, shot protesters celebrating the inauguration of the United States of America 45th President, Donald Trump last Friday.
Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful, had alleged that no fewer than 11 members of the pro-Biafra group were shot dead by security operatives.
“They have attacked our people. Eleven people have been confirmed dead; many others have bullet wounds,” he had claimed in the statement.
The South East senators in a statement in Abuja, through its Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the mere fact that the security agencies applied excess force in an otherwise peaceful rally was reprehensible and questions an emerging pattern in the containment of peaceful assembly in Nigeria.
Abaribe said the 1999 Constitution, as amended, provides for the freedom of association and the right of the people to freely assemble to express their common interest.
He stated: “The last time I checked, that section of the constitution is still intact and has not been amended. It is, therefore, worrisome that the rights of a section of Nigerians would be so wilfully denied with such extra force.
“If the report of killings by the security agencies were to be confirmed, it would, no doubt, leave a gaping hole in the unity of this country. This is one regrettable action too many, coming against the backdrop of the recent report of the Amnesty International (AI) of mass killings of people from the same section of the populace in Nigeria.”
Abaribe said the South East Senate Caucus was not only demanding a stop to this heinous act, but also urging the Federal Government to investigate the high handedness of its security services in the handling of civil protests, with particular emphasis on the latest action by its security agencies in Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the IPOB has threatened to invoke the right to self-defence over the killing of its members.
A statement by Mr. Powerful said IPOB would no longer fold its arms and watch its members killed, alleging that the Port Harcourt attack was the seventh since August 30, 2015.
Said he: “We are placing humanity on notice that events of 20th of January 2017 will be the last time IPOB will march without self-defence mechanism in place. Nobody should say we did not warn because we will continue to march until Biafra is restored.
“A country cannot function on the basis of lies and public deception run by natural born liars and deceivers who are infinitely incapable of telling the truth. We, IPOB, have duly notified every major government in the world and supplied video and photo evidence to substantiate our claim. Nigerian government cannot deny their culpability from now until eternity. The fact remains that we have all their actions on tape.
“All over the world, there were anti-Trump rallies held without a single loss of life. Even in Washington DC itself, there were protests but not a single soul was shot let alone being shot dead.
“The world must know that governance in Nigeria has become so crude and uncivilised that acts clearly provided for in the constitution are termed illegal by law enforcement agents with limited understanding of the provisions of the constitution to the point that wholesale massacre is warranted and in this case justified.”
The IPOB vowed that killing of its members would not be allowed to continue, as it has and “must invoke our right to self-defence very soon,” adding: “If and when IPOB decide to implement the principles of self-defence, the world must not apportion any blame to us.”