From Magnus Eze and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
A think-thank of Igbo intellectuals and professionals world over, Nzuko Umunna, has dragged the Nigerian military before the United Nations (UN), United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK)and other leading nations.
The group said the recent purported ‘shoot-on-sight’ order by Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru to troops in the South East, was a declaration of war on Igbo.
An open letter by the group to the Chief of Army Staff, which was copied to the UN Agency on Human Rights, Human Rights International, the United States Embassy, High Commission, United Kingdom and French Embassy, said the movement of new batches of troops to the region last weekend, clearly confirmed its fears.
The letter dated May 11, 2021, and signed by Dr. Ngozi Odumuko and Dr. Paschal Mbanefo, was also copied to the Russian Embassy, Amnesty International, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Embassy of China.
Nzuko Umunna observed that the hush-hush manner the directive was given made its intent and purpose more ominous, adding that was why it had brought “this properly to your notice with the hope you will take preemptory action.
“We most respectfully urge you to use your good offices to intervene, as a matter of urgency, in this very critical matter to douse the tension and apprehension in the region arising from rumours and the expectation that the killings and unnecessary waste of human lives will escalate.”
The group advised that it was in the overall interest of the country for the army boss to not only clear the air on this very disturbing issue but also counter any such directive in case it had, by some fluke or stroke of overzealousness, been issued.
“A shoot-on-sight directive is tantamount to an order to extra-judicially exterminate innocent citizens as there is no telling who might be part of the collateral unintended casualties. Throughout history, such military strategies or policies have always run the risk of going contrary to all accepted conventions and protocols on the rules of engagement, particularly the Rome Statutes
“In fact, it can be read as genocide where as in this case, there is clear and evident danger of such action resulting in high casualties,” Nzuko Umunna said.
Meanwhile, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday warned that deploying Nigerian soldiers of Hausa Fulani extraction to Igbo land and its environs to execute a shoot-on-sight order, would cause more disaster for the Nigeria state.
Describing the said shoot-on-sight order given to soldiers against Biafra agitators as “exhibition of insensitivity and cowardice,” MASSOB said the operation would not yield their expected result.
MASSOB Leader, Uchenna Madu in a statement, yesterday, said: “No man born of a woman can crush Biafra because God, history and humanities are on our side, Biafra revolution is indestructible.”
“Buhari’s military civilian administration is the worst government Nigeria ever experienced, his leadership style of enforcing and imposing Islamic Hausa Fulani agenda on the rest of Nigerian people is tremendously assisting and justifying our struggle for Biafra actualisation.
“MASSOB wishes to inform President Buhari that deploying his Nigeria military, Fulani soldiers to Biafra land to carry out his shoot-on-sight order, arresting and detention of non violence Biafra freedom fighters. Killings, persecutions, mesmerising, suppressions and oppressions of Biafrans including clampdown on non-violent and armless agitators because of our agitation for self rule only worsens the problem and underscores Nigeria as a creeping and repressive colonial state.
“Biafra agitating groups are not the problem, the Nigerian state as constituted is. Biafra agitation is only a reaction to the many injustices, exclusion, second class citizenship, born to rule philosophy, marginalization and other forms of inequality that characterise the Nigerian state.”