A call has gone to the Nigerian Military high command and president Muhammadu Buhari to immediately halt the incessant physical intimidation and harassment of residents of South East of Nigeria by the armed security forces.
A pro-democracy and Non-governmental body- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has specifically condemned the undue and excessive militarization of the South East of Nigeria even as the group asked the military high command to respect the constitutional rights of the citizens residing in any part of Nigeria to enjoy all the fundamental rights enshrined in chapter four of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
In a statement endorsed jointly by the National coordinator comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also demanded a transparent investigation of the reported use of lethal weapons by the Army in Umuahia, Abia State capital targeting suspected loyalists of the indigenous peoples of Biafra(IPOB).
HURIWA which lamented the mutual suspicions and disharmony between civilians of the South East and the Nigerian military and the progressive deterioration of trust and confidence of the South East public towards the military, however regretted that armed security forces are never deployed to check the frequent attacks of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen but are deployed for political assignments such as unnecessarily to harass ordinary citizens in their attempt to exhibit a show of force against members of the indigenous people of Biafra(IPOB).
The Rights said the high number of deployment of operatives of the armed security forces and the unusual movements of heavy military weapons and equipment in the South East and parts of the crude oil rich South South States in a peace time portrays the impression of an emergency or a war situation just as the Rights group said these actions are undemocratic and inhibits the enjoyment of the constitutionally guaranteed human Right provisions.
“May we urge the military hierarchies to strive to be professional in the command and control of armed operatives of the armed security forces. The undue militarization of the civic space to cajole, harass, intimidate and overwhelm unarmed and peaceful members of the public in the South East is seen as an attempt by the current administration to orchestrate anarchy and civil unrest so as to find the flimsiest of excuses to create chaos and engineer mass killings of innocent citizens in the guise of going after members in indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB)”.
“We hereby appeal to president Buhari to deescalate this ongoing militarization of the peaceful South East/South-South region, and properly redirect the military efforts towards combating the resurgence of terrorism in the restive North East of Nigeria by armed islamists of boko haram”.
“We are worried that even when Amnesty international and other indigenous Non-governmental organizations have raised concerns about the high numbers of persons who disappear whilst they encounter armed security forces, the Nigerian Government has continued to militarize the South East and South-South which are largely peaceful.”
“Why the military action against a totally unarmed and peaceful self-determination group such as IPOB? Why are there too many police and army check points in the South East that engage in constant extortions and harassment of road users?”, HURIWA averred.
HURIWA’s statement came against the back drop of the development in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, on Monday night which was thrown into unrest as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were reported to have engaged soldiers at the capital in a bloody battle.
The group learnt that the incident, which was said to have occurred at the popular Isi Gate area of Umuahia spilled to other parts of the state capital, causing tension amongst residents and visitors alike.
The Rights group therefore wondered why the armed security forces are deployed in a discriminatory fashion to create an atmosphere of chaos and to engender apprehension and tensions amongst the civil populace in the SouthEast of Nigeria”.
The Rights group condemned the reported actions of some soldiers stationed at Isi Gate in the Abia state capital who brazenly were collecting money from commercial tricycle operators and when one of the operators refused giving them money, one of the soldiers reportedly slapped the commercial tricyclist.
HURIWA reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that he has to urgently check the proliferation of military and police checkpoints which constitute severe threats to lives of innocent passers by and are now the conduit pipes and cesspool of corruption and bribery in large scale in the Igbo heartland of South East of Nigeria.
The Rights group cited the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides in section 40 which stated thus:“40. Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:”
HURIWA also accused President Muhammadu Buhari of discriminatory deployment of armed security forces to the peaceful South East and South South whereas other sections of the Nigerian society with even more social crimes are devoid of such unusual militarization.
The group said the decision is a breach of the Nigerian Constitution in section “42. (1) which states that:”A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not
accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.”
HURIWA alleged that whilst President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered military clampdown on IPOB members who are peaceful, he has not gone after members of the Arewa youth coalition who had even proceeded to issue a quit notice on Igbos in the North and called for a clear balkanization of the Nigerian society including the circulation of a hate song advocating genocide against Igbos in the North.