ONITSHA (Press Release) – It gladdens the heart of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) to announce the release yesterday evening, 30th December 2020 of 29 innocent and defenseless residents of Obigbo, a densely populated Igbo area of Rivers State. They regained their freedom after two months of incommunicado or secret detention following their abduction from different parts of Obigbo by soldiers of the Nigerian Army in late October and early November 2020 who falsely and hatefully labeled them “IPOB members/terrorists”, a death code used by the Muslim held Nigerian Government to kill and terrorize defenceless Igbos across the country.
The Nigerian Army had after their abduction and arrival at Abuja and Niger State, divided them into groups and dumped them in various secret dungeons including those of SSS and Army training and secret detention facilities such as Abacha Barracks and SSS dungeons in Kuje. Their release was sequel to perfection of bail conditions attached to a Court bail granted to them on 24th December 2020 by Aminu Mohammed Abdullahi, Chief Magistrate of the Grade 11 Magistrate Court, sitting in Wuse, the Federal Capital Territory.
The freed 29 Army abductees, among them are two young women, were released from secret cells manned by the Nigeria’s Spy Police or SSS at Kuje and Jabi, following their secret transfer to SSS secret cells by the Let Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai led Nigerian Army back in late Oct or early Nov 2020. The freed 29 were part of not less than 400 defenseless Obigbo residents abducted by the Nigerian Army between late Oct and early Nov 2020 and secretly airlifted and land-transported out of Rivers State at night and dumped incommunicado for two months in different secret dungeons scattered in Abuja, Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara States.
Out of the abducted 400 Obigbo residents, 52 secretly held in four locations in Niger State: Jebba, Kontangora, Zungeru and Jebba were recently rescued, granted Court bails and released. Others are presently languishing in Gusau, Zamfara State, Kaduna, Abacha Barracks in Abuja, among others. It must be noted that the present Nigerian Army is secularity challenged, having been presently dominated and controlled by Northern Muslims.
It is recalled that Intersociety had on Tuesday, 22nd December 2020 released a report: ‘The Return Of Decree 2: How 400 Obigbo Residents Or More Were Abducted By Army & Secretly Held In Secret Dungeons In The North; 150 Held In Abuja, 52 Rescued In Niger State & Three Tortured To Death In Captivity.’
The abductions or ‘attempted disappearances’ of the 400 or more Obigbo residents followed ‘war-grade’ invasion by Nigerian Army at the invitation of Gov Nyesom Wike, of Obigbo and environs on 21st October 2020.
The ‘war-grade’ invasion followed politicisation and poor handling of ‘EndSARS’ protests in Rivers State by the Gov. The Army’s ethnic cleansing operation lasted for about 20 days or from 21st Oct to 10th November 2020 leading to massacre of almost 100 and taking away of most of their lifeless bodies. Not less than 110 others were shot and injured, 400 abducted, hundreds tortured, dozens of women emotionally and lustfully harassed and houses and properties worth hundreds of millions of naira burnt or destroyed.
The pattern of their abduction and clustered captivity had strongly suggested intent to have them killed or permanently disappeared in captivity. It is not only that they were abducted but also they were excommunicated from their families and their captors never released any statement disclosing their “arrest” (abduction), why they were “arrested” and offences associated same; not to talk of handing them over to Civil Authorities to charge them to Court or grant them administrative bails.
The likely motive-to-kill by the Nigerian Army was stalled or thwarted by the Sahara Reporters’ exclusive report of 24th Nov 2020: “Nigerian Army Secretly Airlifts Alleged IPOB Members Arrested in Rivers State o Detain Them at Notorious Kainji Barracks in Niger State”. Also if not for quick interventions by the likes of Barr Richie Okoroafor, an int’l human rights lawyer and an Igbo-British citizen, the leadership of IPOB and some local and international human rights groups contacted, most, if not all the abductees would have been ‘wasted’ by the Nigerian Army. Already, the trio of Okechukwu Anyanwu (in his 30s), Kingsley Iwuagwu (in his 30s) and Chijioke (in his 20s) are among those tortured to death by soldiers while in their captivity.
As it stands now, the number of innocent and defenceless Obigbo residents found to be held by the Nigerian Army in Abuja alone has risen to 157, out of which, 29 have just regained their freedom-with 128 others remaining. That is to say that more seven defenseless Obigbo residents have been discovered to be among those being secretly held in Abuja. Elsewhere in Niger State, 52 of the 400 or more abductees were recently rescued from not less than four different secret Army dungeons in the State and were granted bail and freed in four batches through four Court bails granted by a Federal High Court sitting in Minna, a Niger State High Court and a Grade 11 Magistrate Court in the State.
Finally, names of the 29 freed yesterday are: Citizens Cosmas Igwe, Benedict Ezeugwu, Nelson Attamah, Michael Ugwuanyi, Godwin Ezeugwu Attamah, Obinna Orji, Godwin Emeka Omeh, Linus Uroko Eze, Oluchukwu Ugwoke, Eze George Okwudili, Geoffrey Ugwuoke, Nwodo Emma Ogbonnaya, Nnama Celestina Chinwe, Mammah Remi Odinaka, Ben Emeka Oloko, Desmond Onyebuchi Ezeme, Charles Ugwu, Chime C. Nestor-Ezeme, Ezeme Nestor Chika, Ezike Chukwu, Gerald Ugochukwu Abonyi, Ezeugwu Paul Ikechukwu, Odoh Kyrian Obiora, Michael Ifeanyi, Sabastine Asogwa, Livinus Onyebuchi Ojobor, Innocent Ugwueke and Simon Akunna Amadi.
Two Female Abductees Said Soldiers Raped Them At Obinze: Two young women among the 29 freed abductees also narrated to the lawyer handling the matter how they were harassed sexually by soldiers and raped at Obinze Army Barracks in Owerri, Imo State where they were held for three days after their abduction at Obigbo before being transported to Abuja and further held for days in Army Barracks from where they were transferred to the SSSS. Arrangements have been concluded to file bail applications for the release of the remaining 128. Attached below are the group photo (taken this morning 31st Dec) of the 29 freed abductees and another taken immediately after their release yesterday (30th Dec) at the premises of the SSS dungeon in Kuje and Jabi, all in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Barr Chinwe Umeche, Head of Democracy & Good Governance; Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law; Barr Ndidiamaka Bernard, Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights and Comrade Samuel Kamanyoku, Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation