By NwaforOkafor, Awka
A civil rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has alleged that security operatives, made up of the army, police and Ebubeagu, have killed no fewer than 1360 persons and destroyed about 1450 homes in the South-East in 20 months.
The group stated this on Monday in a statement by its board of trustees chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, made available to our correspondent on Monday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, adding that 150 communities were raided and about 51,000 persons rendered homeless during the period under review.
It also said civilian properties worth N57bn were looted, maintaining that the situation caused N600bn trade and investment losses in the area following siege and atrocities perpetrated by the actors.
It added that it had launched what it called an international documentary in that respect based on painstaking investigations which is currently trending online.
The group’s statement read partly, “Soldiers of the Nigerian Military and others including various police crack squads and their allied Ebubeagu government militias deployed in Igbo parts of Eastern Nigeria between October 2020 and June 2022 or in the past 20 months, raided 150 communities, burnt or destroyed 1,450 defenseless civilian homes, forced 51,000 out of their ancestral homes, killed 1,360, burnt or destroyed or looted civilian properties worth N57bn and caused N600b trade and investment losses following the siege and atrocities.
“The thorough investigation and compilation of verified videos and photos into the burnings and related atrocities had lasted for six months (January to June 2022) following our special report of 19th January 2022. The Report had factually accused the soldiers of the Nigerian Military of indiscriminate killing of defenseless civilians and burning and destruction of their properties; brazenly and hatefully perpetrated outside the law and with impunity.
“The Nigerian Army on 20th January 2022 issued a rejoinder, denying responsibility and refusing to investigate and fish out the perpetrators responsible and punish them severely to deter repeat perpetration and occurrences. The gathered photos and videos used had included those from other news reports and commentaries derived from Nigerian Military’s field operations in Eastern Nigeria and other parts of the country since 2015.
“Consequently, the international documentary was internationally launched last night (17th July 2022 at 8pm Nigerian time) through virtual conference anchored by the Njenje Media International, UK; lasting for about one hour. The international presentation of the documentary had scholars like John Gregg and Amadiebube Mbama as co-hosts and attracted several international media reporters, commentators, diplomats, Igbo, Nigerian leaders in diaspora and other local and international observers and activists.
“The documentary identified key perpetrators to include Brig General Raymond Utsaha, Brigade Commander of the 34 Brigade, Obinze, near Owerri, Imo State who was the 34 Brigade Commander March 2021 to March 2022; Brig General Sani Suleiman, new Brigade Commander of the 34 Brigade since March 2022. Others are Col Abdulkarim B. Usman, Cantonment Commandant, Onitsha 302 Army’s Artillery Regiment/General Support since 2021, Major Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu since 2021 and Gov Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.
“Finally, Intersociety is strongly calling for end of military siege, burnings, killings and wanton property destructions in Eastern Nigeria. As a matter of fact and inexcusability, the Government of Nigeria must end its policy of cover-ups, especially by granting impunity and immunity protection or cover to perpetrators of the grisly rights abuses and other prohibited acts.
“It saddens our heart that no single perpetrator of the referenced horrendous crimes had been held to account by the present Government of Nigeria since its inception in 2015. By its gross omission to act, the Nigerian Government has joined the long list of international crimes perpetrators. The Nigerian Government has also lost its “defence of complimentarity” under the international law including the Rome Statute (ICC) of 1998 which Nigeria ratified in Sept 2001, over eight years before it came into force in July 2002. “