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Groups blame FG over violence in South East

by Nonye Udimiri
7 minutes read

Leaders of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) South-East Zone and the South-East based Coalition of Human Rights & Democracy Organization (SBCHROs) have blamed Nigerian government for violence in the South-East.

They said that the Nigerian government’s violent crackdowns on unarmed and non-violent self-determination activists and members of the general civilian population of Eastern Nigeria have forced the former into violent self-defence.

This was made open to journalists during an international press conference held on Sunday in Enugu, Enugu State by leaders of the Intersociety and assisted by key leaders of the South-East CLO and the South-East Based Coalition of Human Rights and Democracy Organizations (SBCHROs).

Umeagbalasi said that going by Intersociety’s records arising from its years of research and investigations in Eastern Nigeria, the Nigerian government was responsible for the massacre of not less than 480 unarmed agitators and other defenceless members of the Eastern Nigerian population, mostly Igbo citizens.

He said that the security forces also shot and fatally injured over 700 others, adding that these egregious and horrendous crimes were perpetrated between August 2015 and Sept 2017; during which several hundreds were also arrested or abducted and held without proper trials for years and other hundreds were abducted and disappeared.

“The perpetrators included soldiers of the Nigerian Army, operatives of the country’s secret police and the Nigeria Police’s special squads’. The security forces also killed countless unarmed citizens and made away with their bodies and in many, if not in most cases soaked them with raw acid substances and dumped the same to decompose beyond traces in secret mass graves.

“It must be noted that the self-determination activists maintained non-violence from August 2015 to December, 2020. The casualty figures recorded by security forces then were acutely asymmetric or disproportional when compared to the number of civilians killed,” he said.

He said that conversely, statistics and circumstances had changed from January 2021 till date (October 2021), stressing that, there have been increases in the number of deaths and property violence in Eastern Nigeria since January 2021.
He said that the referenced period above represents the agitators’ change of ‘struggle tactics’ from ‘non-violence to violent self-defence’.

“It must be pointed out that there are presently more than 30 self-determination groups in Eastern Nigeria with ‘the Indigenous People of Biafra’ or ‘IPOB’ in the lead. Among them are “the mainstream”, “the renegades”, “the radicals” or “leftists”, “the centralists” or “moderates”, “the conservatives”, “the urban refugees” or “self-exiled intellectuals” and “moles” recruited and armed by government.

“From available statistics since January 2021, the Nigerian security forces have since October 2020 (if Obigbo Army massacre is added) killed not less than 750 persons in Eastern Nigeria including 700 unarmed and defenceless citizens and estimated 50 armed agitators.
“Unlike in 2015 to 2017 and 2017 to 2020 (during the period of non-violence); the security agencies have lost at least 400 personnel. Key public properties in their hundreds were also lost to armed agitators and armed government secret death squads.”

He said that self determination is the legal right of people to decide their destiny in the international order and a core principle of international law arising from customary international law.

Umeagbalasi said that international legality of self determination is further recognized as a general principle of law and enshrined in numerous international rights, humanitarian and security and defence treaties or pacts.

He said that customary international law involves an aspect of international law embedded in the principle of custom. He added that along with general principles of laws and treaties, the custom is considered by the International Court of Justice, International Jurists, United Nations and its member-states to be the primary sources of International Law.

“Therefore, the collective rights of a people to be born, exist, live, move, associate, develop and worship peacefully in a specified territory; recognizing and respecting rights of others to do same are all founded on international customs and traditions-and derogation of same by any member-state or its part; or independent or state-backed armed opposition group, is prohibited and punishable,” he said

Umeagbalasi also pointed out that the Nigerian constitution supports agitation for self determination adding that it is generally governed by spirit and letters of the law, as its enforcement and obedience are also governed by morality and justiciability.

“All the 320 sections of the constitution and their subsidiaries are either morally or legally enforceable in the country or any part thereof. Therefore, apart from the fact that the existing constitution supports agitation for self determination having contained ‘Social Contract’ obligations for public office holders or those manning executive, judicial and legislative functions and morally demanded their full implementation at all times, the non-state actor agitation (using non-violence or self-defence violence) for the actualization of these sacred governance obligations in the country or any part thereof is caused by failure of the above named public office holders in Section 13 of the Constitution to govern the country democratically, pluralistically, secularly, securely and developmentally; thereby placing the country in the citadel of diversity, peaceful co-existence and inclusiveness.”

He said that the daily activities witnessed in Nigeria have proven that morally binding fundamental objectives are in gross breach because the ‘Social Contract’ obligations expected of the country’s 17,500 public office holders, now in gross breach, are highlighted as follows:
“Sections 14 (democracy, social justice and inclusiveness), 15 (unity and faith, peace and progress and abolition of corrupt practices and abuse of power), 16 (national prosperity, economic growth and development and equitable distribution of same), 17 (freedom, equality and justice), 18 (provision/accessibility/ affordability of equal and quality education to all citizens of education age), 19 (favourable foreign policy or ‘citizen diplomacy including respect for international law and treaty obligations), 20 (protection of the environment including safety and security of air, land, forest and water) and 21 (pluralistic protection, promotion and preservation of Nigerian cultures and prohibition of any religion as a State Religion following Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution).”

Umeagbalasi said that, therefore, the failure of the public office holders to implement these is a fundamental breach of Section 2(1) of the 1999 constitution (indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria) and a serious threat to the same.
H called on the Nigerian Government to free IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and end the violent crackdowns against self-determination agitators.

“The Nigerian government must free Nnamdi Kanu and end all forms of violent crackdowns and state persecutions against agitators and innocent and defenceless members of the Eastern Nigeria population.

“The Government is gravely breaching the constitution in Sections 19 (1) (d), 35 and 36 of the country’s international and domestic obligations by refusing to ensure that Nnamdi Kanu is given a fair hearing and allowed speedy and fair trial within the constitutionally stipulated time frames irrespective of the alleged offence gravity or be granted bail or freed unconditionally.

“The condemnable act of the Nigerian government in this regard also constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security and derogation of international customary, human rights and humanitarian law obligations and has portrayed the country in a bad light and presented her as “a rogue member-state of the United Nations and African Union”.

“The delays by the ICC’s new Chief Prosecutor and other world justice bodies to re-commence and consolidate their investigations into conduct atrocities by the present Nigerian Government and its security forces against unarmed and defenceless citizens of Eastern Nigeria are deeply worrisome and amount to the issuance of impunity tickets to the perpetrators to continue to terrorize, kill, maim, abduct, torture, disappear and destroy en masse with reckless abandon and impunity.”

The international press conference, addressed by Intersociety’s boss, Emeka Umeagbalasi, had in attendance the key leaders of Southeast Civil Society Organizations (CSOs); namely: Barr Chidimma Udegbunam (Intersociety), Barr. Obianuju Igboeli (Intersociety), Anayo Okoli (Intersociety Board Member), Comrade Chibueze Nwajiaku (Intersociety) and Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku (Intersociety).
Other South-East Rights and Democracy CSO leaders including Comrade Aloysius Attah (Chairman, South-East CLO), Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme (Anambra State Chairman of CLO), Associate Prof. Jerry Chukwuokoro (SBCHROs), Okezie Kelechi, PhD (SBCHROs), Comrade Chilos Godsent (President of Igbo National Council), Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor (FENRAD) and Comrade Alozie Nwokocha (SBCHROs) were present.

“The condemnable act of the Nigerian government in this regard also constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security and derogation of international customary, human rights and humanitarian law obligations and has portrayed the country in a bad light and presented her as “a rogue member-state of the United Nations and African Union”.

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