By International Society
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a leading research and investigative rights group is in possession of graphic details of how soldiers, police and other Nigerian security operatives presently deployed in the East madly, wildly, hatefully, and falsely label and abduct innocent citizens especially the citizens of Igbo Ethnic Nationality and Christian faith and spill their blood for gallantry. These have led to not less than 170 open killings, secret abduction and permanent disappearance or feared unlawful execution in the custody of no fewer than 550 and general arrest/abduction of not less than 2100. The arrested/abducted are presently held in different open and secret dungeons located within and outside the East and among those outside the East are Makurdi Prisons in Benue State where over 300 were recently found to have been transferred and kept. Others are conventional and unconventional military, police and SSS detention facilities in Abuja, Niger State and other undisclosed locations in the North. They are also in Owerri, Awka, Port Harcourt and Abakaliki State CIDs and Prison or Correctional facilities such as Owerri Prisons holding over 130 including 107 remanded days ago.
Shockingly, in the past one week or Monday 24th to Sunday 30th May 2021, not less than 30 open and secret killings by soldiers and police have taken place with most taking place in Imo State where scores of corpses have been freshly traced to the mortuaries of the Government Medical Centres. The slain are all victims of extra-judicial killings including innocent citizens ‘killed after the act’ at crime scenes and falsely labelled for gallantry. The findings above cover the first five months of 2021 or January to May 2021.
Summarily, Intersociety had investigated and found as follows: That soldiers, police and other security operatives have since January 2021 openly shot and killed over 170 persons in the two regions out of the number, at least 145 are innocent citizens or victims of extrajudicial killings while 25 others are combatively involved. That: the named security agencies have abducted over 2100 and falsely labelled over 90% of them “ESN hoodlums/terrorists” including over 300 dumped recently in far away Makurdi Prisons in Benue State, over 70 dumped at Awka State CID and over 107 others recently remanded in Owerri Prisons after “mobile court” mumbo jumbo arraignment.
That: soldiers accounted for most of the abductions and disappearances including not less 550 citizens who disappeared since January 2021 or suspected victims of unlawful executions. That: over 90% of those paraded by soldiers and police as “ESN hoodlums/terrorists” are innocent; and same goes for over 90% of the slain bodies tagged “ESN hoodlums killed in gun duel with security forces”. They are victims of ‘after the act’ crime scene shootings and killings.
It is on unarguable and empirical record that the security forces of Nigeria are presently rated one of the worst in the world in terms of lack of professional know-how, secular or pluralistic composition and adherence to human rights principles during their operations. As a matter of fact, the Nigerian security forces disastrously lack technical know-how including technical policing and soldiering or e-policing and e-soldiering and mental competence; otherwise called ‘man-machine-mental policing and soldiering’ such as intelligence and mental and technology-based crime detection and investigation.
The security forces of Nigeria are also acutely hateful and Islamist in their composition and operational approaches. This further explains why they channel all their energies and resources towards clamping down citizens of the two regions including abducting, killing and maiming them in large numbers, but turn blind eyes on others especially members of the country’s Muslim population with particular reference to their criminal elements. The totality of the above is therefore responsible for the referenced atrocious conduct.
The most alarming of it all is the abandonment of all rules of engagement governing conflict or wartime and peacetime operations and crude resort to jungle justice and atrocity conducts. Even in armed conflict, the killing of wounded soldiers or combatants and prisoners of war is internationally outlawed and perpetration of the same is a clear act or of war crimes. But in ongoing security operations in Southeast and South-south Nigeria, thousands of innocent citizens have been targeted for false labeling and abduction. Hundreds have also been shot and killed or maimed. Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, the Defense Headquarters, and the Chief of Army Staff officially sanction the abductions and killings.
In all, it is correct to say that there is ongoing mass persecution in the East targeted at Igbo Christian citizens, singled out and dubbed “IPOB/ESN hoodlums”. End of the Summary
Details Of Abducted And Slain Innocent Citizens Falsely Labelled “ESN Hoodlums/Gunmen”
Eze Avurum, 64 years old and his cousin-Dominic Okechukwu: Eze Awurum and Dominic Ekechukwu (his maternal cousin) and Eze Awurum’s daughter; all from Umuneke-nta, Ugiri in Isiala Mbano, Imo State were abducted in Aba on 12th May 2021 by soldiers of 144 Battalion of 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Ohafia. Eze Awurum was publicly paraded hours later by the Army and falsely labelled “ESN second-in-command”. Their abduction took place at the residence of Citizen Dominic Okechukwu, which was also burnt down. They, including Eze Awurum’s daughter, were taken away but his daughter (Oluomachi) was released after three days since then, Citizens Eze Awurum and Dominic Ekechukwu have remained in Army captivity at Abacha (Mogadishu) Barracks and contrary to the Army’s claims, Mr. Eze Awurum was framed up by his community’s Traditional ruler (Eze Onyenagbaru) over a dispute involving a parcel of ancestral land leading to him being abducted and framed as “ESN second-in-command”.
- John Chinonso, 24 Years Old: He is from Nchoko Dikenafai Community in Ideato South, Imo State and living at Apiti Street by Hardel Junction, Orji-Uratta in Owerri North, Imo State. An orphan living with his elder brother orphan, Citizen Chinoso owns and manages ‘DADDYFRESH BARBING SALOON’ at Ogboru Umuchoke by Hardel Bus Stop, Uratta. He had responded to his elder brother’s call for him to close his shop and return home before dawn owing to the precarious security situation in Owerri and environs and as he was going home in the evening of Tuesday, 25th May 2021 at about 4pm, the police patrol personnel blocked and arrested him at gunpoint. Citizen John Chinonso was same evening paraded alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums attempted to burn down Orji Police Station”.
• Chukwudi Okoro, 29 years old: He is a Shuttle Bus transporter/owner, plying Owerri-Orji route with his apprentice-apprentice. He is from Akabo-Amata in Orji, near Owerri, Imo State. His wife, Chioma, is heavily pregnant for seven months. Citizen Chukwudi Okoro and his apprentice-driver were heading home in the early evening of 25th May 2021, having closed early as a result of the precarious security situation in Owerri and environs including the rising wave of Army and Police abductions and extrajudicial killings. They immediately sighted riotous police patrol personnel shooting indiscriminately around Orji and environs, forcing Citizen Chukwudi Okoro to jump out of his Shuttle Bus in fear and ask his driver to take the Bus to the driver’s house so that he could find a safer route to his house. He barely trekked meters when the police patrol personnel blocked and arrested him at gunpoint. He was arrested and paraded same evening alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station”.
- Casmir Ibegbulem, 40 years old: He is a father of one, expectant father of another and a “Permit Holder” staff of LNG Company at Bonny Island in Bayelsa State and a native of Ogwa Community in Mbaitoli, Imo State. Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem returned for the burial of his in-law, which eventually took place on Friday, 28th May 2021. He was in Owerri on Tuesday, 25th May 2021 to pick up personal items needed when police patrol personnel bounced on him at gunpoint and arrested him. He was paraded same evening alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station”. Citizen Casmir Ibegbulem is married to Onyekachi who is pregnant for seven months.
• Alozie Daberechi and Chigaemezu Sabastine: They are Owerri based traders and indigenes of Imo State and one of them, Alozie Daberechi (fair coloured and in blue jeans, spotted second to the right in a photo released by the police) is dealing on plumbing materials at Ogbosisi (Timber) Market in Owerri. The two were arrested by police patrol operatives on their way home in the early evening of Tuesday, 25th May 2021 and paraded same evening alongside three others as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station”.
- Ugbo Casmir Nnaemeka & Ojukwu Ukonu: They differently reside at World Bank Housing Estate, New Owerri and Igwe Allen Okoro Street, Off MCC Road, Owerri and were maliciously arrested differently on trumped-up allegations on 13th May (Ojukwu Ukonu) and 14th May 2021 (Casmir Nnaemeka Ugbo) by the operatives of the anti-kidnapping squad of the Imo State Police Command. The two had served in various capacities in the administration of former Governor Rochas Okorocha and are still aides working for the former Governor. Citizens Ugbo Casmir Nnaemeka and Ojukwu Ukonu are fathers of children living with their wives and differently hail from Umuezike Obibi-Ochasi in Orlu, Imo State (Nnaemeka Casmir) and Obinocha-Nkwere in Nkwere, Imo State (Ojukwu Ukonu).
Surprisingly, on Friday, 28th May 2021, the Imo State Police Command released a false and malicious statement: “Police Arrest Four (Five) Additional ESN Hoodlums That Attacked Imo Prison (Correctional) Headquarters, Others…”. The Police Command not only named the duo alongside two (three) others as “ESN hoodlums” bur also falsely claimed to have arrested them on Thursday, 27th May 2021 “during a coded raid operation to fish out “ESN hoodlums”. Available evidence has not only rubbished police claims but also incontrovertibly showed that they have been arrested and detained since 13th and 14th May 2021, a period of two weeks before the Police latest false claims and labeling.
• Smith Amadikwa: Citizen Smith Amadikwa is 44 years old father of kids and happily married to Hon Mrs. Ebere Amadikwa, a former Leader of the Obowo Local Government Legislative Council under former Governor Rochas Okorocha and they reside at Umuagu Seven & Half Junction, Obowo and hail from Umuagu in Obowo. According to his wife, Smith Amadikwa was arrested and detained since 12th May 2021 after he had gone in the company of his wife to catch up with an appointment at Owerri Shoprite/ Samsung from where he was arrested by the Imo State Police Command. His wife had waited for him in vain in their car to join her back home.
Citizen Smith Amadikwa also served under the Okorocha administration and presently owns and runs “Smith’s Comedy Show”. He is also a well-known ‘Master of Ceremony’ and ‘Movie Actor’. He was among the four (five) names falsely labeled “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters” by the Imo State Police Command on 28th May 2021 which also falsely claimed to have arrested him alongside others on Thursday, 27th May 2021 as against 12th May 2021 when he was arrested.
• Engineer Ikechukwu Okomah, 50 Years Old: He is a graduate of Engineering from the Enugu State University, class of 1996 and Masters Degree holder in Chemical Engineering and a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers as well as a licensed petroleum dealer and an executive member of IPMAN (independent petroleum marketers association of Nigeria). Married with kids and living with his wife, he is from Ubahaezike, Awo Idemmili in Orsu Local Government Area, Imo State and resides at MCC Road, Uratta, Owerri and religiously, he is a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement of Nigeria of St Mathews Catholic Church, MCC Road, Uratta, Imo State and also owns and runs a big pig farm in his Community.
He was maliciously accused and arrested on 19th May 2021 by the anti-kidnapping squad of the Imo State Police Command and shockingly on Friday, 28th May 2021, was co-labeled by the Imo State Police Command as “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters”, which also falsely claimed to have arrested him alongside three (four) others on Thursday, 27th May 2021.
- Emeka Mbonu (Mescana), 39 Years Old & Ibe Chisom Amadi: Emeka Mbonu is a father of three kids and happily married, residing at MCC Road/Amawire, Owerri. He is presently into real estate and was a staff of Owerri Capital Development Authority under former Governor Rochas Okorocha. He hails from Osina in Ideato North, Imo State and was arrested and detained by the operatives of the Imo State Police Command since 13th May 2021 and was co-labeled “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters”.
The Police also falsely claimed to have arrested him alongside three (four) others on Thursday, 27th May 2021. It must be noted that Citizens Ikechukwu Okomah and Emeka Mbonu were arrested and originally framed and accused of “possessing firearms” (Dane guns and pump-action guns used by their street vigilantes) from where the Police changed and accused them of “being ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters”. Citizen Ibe Chisom, on his part, is a Port Harcourt-based father of three and a surveyor who was arrested by police/SSS since 18th March 2021 and whisked away with his white Toyota Camry car. He had returned from Port Harcourt to his Umuodiya, Umuegwum in Mbaise, Imo State for a funeral ceremony when he was arrested around 12noon and since then he has not been seen or located.
• In Aba, Abia State, the following citizens have been arrested and held since January 2021: Michael Tochukwu Orji (trader), 22, from Isu, Ebonyi State, held by soldiers since 25th Jan 2021. Before he was transferred to State CID, Umuahia, Citizen Tochukwu Orji said he witnessed the killing by soldiers of five other abductees at Ngwa High School base of 144 Battalion; Prince John, arrested since January and held at State CID, Umuahia; Chukwuma Nwokike, 57 years old, from Umueze-Osisioma Ngwa, held since 26th April 2021; Jude Chukwu (artist), 60 years old from Umulolo-Okigwe, held since 23rd Feb 2021; Chinaza Gideon, 30 years old, from Obowo in Imo State, arrested on 26th May 2021; Michael Ukpai, from Edda, Afikpo in Ebonyi State and Precious Uwaoma and five others, arrested by soldiers on 26th May 2021 and held till date at Mogadishu Barracks, Abuja.
Gallantry By Spilling Innocent Bloods
Apart from hate and crude policing and soldiering, Nigerian security forces presently deployed in the East are indiscriminately and recklessly showcasing “gallantry” by spilling innocent blood. Having carefully watched and studied the patterns used by violent non-state actor entities and countermeasures used by security forces especially soldiers and police, it is our incontrovertible finding that the security forces are wantonly killing innocent citizens and labeling them falsely. This is to the extent that most of the claims made by soldiers and police of “neutralizing” “ESN hoodlums” are found to be highly questionable and discreditable. In other words, most of those the security forces claimed to have been killing the nonstate actor and state actor engineered attacks on security personnel and Government facilities are innocent members of the public deliberately and hatefully killed to showcase false gallantry. This is technically referred to as “after the act” crime scene killings. This is in addition to most of the arrests made after such attacks.
For instance, in recent attacks in Orlu, out of eleven bodies displayed as “slain bodies of ESN hoodlums gunned down at gun battle”; only five were combatively involved and six others were innocent citizens including passersby and Keke riders; likewise in Awka were out of seven bodies displayed, only two were combatively involved and five others were innocent citizens. In the foiled attack targeted at Army Roadblock at Ariaria Junction area of Aba on 23rd/24th April 2021, the attackers had retreated and safely escaped only for soldiers to turn the scene to the lethal shooting spree, killing no fewer than seventeen innocent citizens and falsely labeling them “ESN hoodlums killed in gun battle by gallant troops”. Intersociety has successfully traced the mortuary where many of them were dumped and among the slain innocent citizens were Citizens Ifeanyi Thomas (Aba based shoemaker) and 28 years old from Ozuitem, Bende in Abia State; Okoro Arums (Aba based shoemaker) and 26 years old from Amasiri, Ebonyi State and David Chukwuka (Aba based shoemaker) and 21 years old from Igboeze North, Enugu State. Also the latest claims by the Imo State Police Command of “killing of four hoodlums and arresting others who killed Gulak, at Afor-Enyiogugu Junction in Aboh Mbaise”; are not independently credible as some local eyewitnesses have disclosed that “most of the slain and the injured are innocent citizens shot and killed while scrambling for the illicitly distributed onions”.
Late Citizen Mathew Maduakolam Opara-Oliver, 45 Years Old: Married with kids and a Company director dealing on Aluminum products with his office situated POWA plaza at Fire Service by Mbaise Road, Owerri. He hailed from Oziri, Inyishi in Ikeduru, Imo State and was gunned down by soldiers at Orji on 25th May 2021 on his way back from a business trip. In the evening of 28th May 2021 at Ogbosisi Market, Owerri, 24 years old Akachukwu Nwadike was severally and severely stabbed with knives by police personnel from the Imo State Police Command and later taken away alongside about twenty others. The riotous police personnel had violently stormed the Market and smashed windscreens of over ten parked private and commercial vehicles. The Police later claimed that they “raided the Market on account of the discovery of illegal petroleum deport”. Yesterday night, 30th May 2021 at Diamond Spot part of Amakohia in Owerri, there were reports of abduction by soldiers of not less than ten young men, bundled and taken to unknown destinations. Instances are too many to be mentioned.
In all these, we have received over 100 phone calls and messages from members of the public testifying in favour of the abducted and slain citizens named above. Intersociety hereby calls on the Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Army to immediately and unconditionally release all the citizens named above and desist from perpetration and perpetuation of such dastardly acts including frame-ups and trumped-up allegations or charges, spilling of innocent blood as a mark of gallantry, abductions and disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other forms of genocidal operations going on in the East
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist/Board Chair