From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
A civil rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) yesterday released a shocking report where it said soldiers of the Nigerian Army, joined in some cases by the combined forces of Police, DSS, NSCDC and other members of the Armed Forces have in the past 14 months raided not less than 100 Igbo communities, attacked not less than 1000 dwelling houses belonging to unarmed civilians and destroyed properties valued at not less than N40billion.
The group in a report titled “Massacre In Eastern Nigeria: A Special Investigative Report” signed by its board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi , Chinwe Umeche , Head of Democracy & Good Government Department , Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku, Head of Field Data and Documentation and four others also stated that the Nigerian security forces, presently structured along Northern Muslim lines and deployed in Eastern Nigeria had in fourteen months or between late October 2020 and Dec 2021 killed not less than 1,150 defenseless citizens of Eastern Nigeria.
The report said all the victims were members of Judeo-Christian Faith and mostly ethnic Igbo citizens while their killings represent monthly average of 85 deaths and daily average of three and could be monthly average of 155 and daily average of 5.5 deaths if the presumed dead 1000 missing citizens are added.
The group also alleged that the security forces also abducted and disappeared till date in the same past 14 months at least 1000 unarmed civilians; arrested alive and unarmed and taken into security custodies outside the knowledge of their families or lawyers, from where they have gone missing till date noting that soldiers of the Nigerian Army are found to be responsible for at least 70% of their abduction and disappearances while DSS, NPF, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force are separately and jointly responsible for the remaining 30%.
“Imo State accounted for the highest number of those traceably killed by security forces especially soldiers of the Nigerian Army and personnel of the Nigeria Police “special squads”. The State accounted for at least 300 deaths from the 1,150 deaths; followed by Rivers with 200 deaths including 150 deaths arising October-November 2020 Obigbo Army attacks. The Nigeria Police IRT Headquarters or ‘Abattoir’ at Abuja was responsible for not less than 150 custodial deaths (mainly citizens arrested from Imo State), followed by Abia State with not less than 130 deaths. Anambra and Ebonyi accounted for 100 deaths each while Akwa Ibom recorded at least 60 deaths.
“The Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) and its ‘Special Tactical Squad’ and ‘Counter Terrorism Unit’ at Abuja also accounted for at least 50 extra-judicial or custodial killings. Delta and Cross River recorded the remaining minimum of 60 deaths; totaling 1,150 defenseless citizens’ deaths in 14 months. Imo State also accounted for at least 40% of the circumstantially discovered 1000 missing/presumed dead citizens, followed by Rivers State”
“ The not less than 270 Igbo-Christian deaths arising from attacks by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Igbo Nation territory in 2021 majorly took place in ancestral Igbo parts of Benue and Kogi where no fewer than 90 deaths occurred; followed by Ebonyi and Enugu with at least 80 deaths; Igbo Delta/Edo with no fewer than 50 deaths. The rest are Anambra with at least 30 deaths and Imo and Abia with at least 30 deaths, totaling 270 Igbo-Christian deaths”
Intersociety noted that it is forbidden in military tradition and modern warfare for soldiers to target and engage in wanton destruction of properties belonging to civilian population or properties that do not constitute “military necessity”.
“Such heinous acts are internationally and severely punishable as “war crimes” or “crimes against humanity”. Atrociously, soldiers and other security forces deployed in Eastern Nigeria have mindlessly targeted and razed civilian houses with impunity. Soldiers have also been found to have turned themselves into ‘looters’. A clear case in point was the looting spree by the Nigerian Air Force (211 Regiment, Owerri) personnel on May 30th and 31st 2021 at Enyiogugu Market Square in Mbaise, Imo State” the group said.