ONITSHA – Human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has said Nigerian security forces deployed in Eastern Nigeria and Jihadists killed no fewer than 1,150 defenceless citizens of Eastern Nigeria in 14 months from October 2020 to December 2021.
According to its special report made available to Sundiata Post on Wednesday, Intersociety said all the victims are members of Judeo-Christian faith and mostly ethnic Igbo citizens.
According to the report signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi and Chidimma Udegbunam, the “killings represent monthly average of 85 deaths and daily average of three and could be monthly average of 155 and daily average of 5.5 deaths if the presumed dead 1000 missing citizens are added. The security forces also abducted and disappeared till date in the same past 14 months at least 1000 unarmed civilians; arrested alive and unarmed and taken into security custodies outside the knowledge of their families or lawyers, from where they have gone missing till date. Soldiers of the Nigerian Army are found to be responsible for at least 70% of their abduction and disappearances while DSS, NPF, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force are separately and jointly responsible for the remaining 30%.”
The full report of the executive summary reads:
“In the area of ‘perpetrator ratio’, soldiers of the Nigerian Army and various ‘special squads’ of the Nigeria Police Force are the lead-killers or perpetrators. The trio of Governors Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State are the most vicariously culpable Governors that aided and abetted the killings and property destruction including burning of civilian homes and sanctuaries. On the other hand, the widely believed Nigerian State protected Jihadists especially the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen are responsible for hacking to death in 2021 alone of at least 270 Igbo Christians. Their death had majorly occurred in Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Abia and Igbo parts of Delta, Edo (Obiaruku and Igbo-Akiri), Benue and Kogi States. The killings by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have brought the total number of defenseless citizens traceably killed in Eastern Nigeria in the past 14 months to at least 1,400. This is when added to 1,150 defenceless civilian deaths perpetrated by security forces.
The Death Toll Could Be 2,400 If 1000 Missing/Presumed Dead Citizens Are Added
It is therefore likely correct to say that in all, not less than 2,400 unarmed civilians lost their lives to Nigerian security forces and the Jihadists in Eastern Nigeria in the past 14 months-covering October 2020 to December 2021. This is on account of the fact that the not less than 1000 missing persons are likely to have been killed in custodies and most unlikely to be returned alive to their families. This is more so when strong evidence abounds showing no traces of location and securing the release of citizens abducted by soldiers of the Nigerian Army in Eastern Nigeria since January 2021. They also hardly hand over or transfer those arrested or abducted to the Police. From our investigation, most, if not all those abducted by them since January 2021 have never been located by families or seen alive till date.
Same was the case during and after the Army’s war grade attack on Obigbo, Rivers State in late October-early November 2020. It is shocking that while dozens died in different secret military custodies within and outside Eastern Nigeria, not less than 550 of the abductees were later independently located; out of the number, 418 were freed through courts and 95-100 others were discovered in late November 2021 to have been dumped in Kaduna Prisons and lock centres. Over 40 of the abductees were also found to have been killed in custody through torture and infliction of injuries as well as starvation and lack of medical treatment. Estimated number of 200 Obigbo abductees is still unaccounted for and their whereabouts are unknown till date. Intersociety has continued to receive enquiry messages from dozens of families of those searching for their loved ones. The Nigerian Army is further acting roguishly by holding their abductees for over a year through intra and inter-agency detention transfers whereby the abductees are secretly held without trial in several military and security agencies’ detention facilities leading to scores of custodial deaths.
4,800 Arrested, 2,000 Still Held, 700 Freed, Others Killed Or Disappeared
Analytically, estimated 4,800 unarmed citizens of Eastern Nigeria have been arrested or abducted by security forces in the past 14 months (since late October 2020), out of the number, 660 were traceably killed in security custodies, about 500 were killed in open shootings mainly carried out by soldiers of the Nigerian Army and personnel of other branches of the Armed Forces. A clear case in point being dumping of over 100 dead victims of Army’s open shooting of civilians at the Owerri Federal Medical Centre. Not less than 1,000 mainly abducted civilians have disappeared or presumed dead mainly in military custodies. No fewer than 2,000 unarmed civilians are still detained without trial and only 700 of the arrested 4,800 citizens have regained their freedom in the past 14 months. The freed 700 citizens had included 418 Obigbo abductees and some 300 other civilian citizens arrested by security forces in the East since January 2021. Most of them got freed after being forced to offer average of N1m per freed detainee. This was majorly the case in the hands of the Nigeria Police Force especially its “IRT”, “STS”, “CTU”, ”Anti Kidnapping”, “SWAT/SARS” and “the Special Forces” comprising the operatives of the Army, Police, DSS, Navy, Air Force, NSCDC, etc.
This Special Investigative Report also found that not less than 400 leaders/members of the African instituted churches, derogatorily called ‘white garment churches’ including Sabbath sects and their likes have been abducted or killed in security custodies. Through religious profiling and persecution and fueled by false labeling and without concrete and indictable pieces of evidence, the Nigerian security forces have designated them as ‘terrorist religious group’ and hatefully accused them of membership and sponsorship of “ESN/IPOB”. Many, if not most of their sacred sanctuaries and symbols of worship and dwelling houses have also been burnt down or destroyed by security forces. Traditional herbalists across Eastern Nigeria have also become endangered species in the hands of security forces. From the camps of about five designated categories of “Unknown Gunmen” operating in Igbo parts of Eastern Nigeria, not less than 100 civilian deaths have been recorded in the Region since July 2021 with Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Abia as the worst hit. From the angle of international law’s recognized “legitimate deaths” or deaths arising from battlefields’ combats between security forces and armed opposition groups (i.e. ESN/’Unknown Gunmen’), a total of 300 security operatives and 100 opposition armed men have lost their lives in the past 14 months.
It was our further investigative discovery that no fewer than 100 Igbo communities have been invaded by security forces in the past 14 months and caused not less than 1000 homes or dwelling houses to be raided and razed during which properties such as the land housing each of the buildings, the building structure, electronics and electrical appliances, chairs and house utensils, food items, economic trees, domestic animals, automobiles and other valuable items were destroyed or burnt to ashes or looted. From our conservative estimates, each house, its land and properties is worth not less than N35m, translating to N35billion for the estimated 1000 dwelling houses destroyed or burnt down. The remaining N5b arises from other outside-the-house properties destroyed or burnt down including market stores and their wares-totaling N40billion as total properties’ value lost in the hands of the Nigerian security forces particularly soldiers of the Nigerian Army and other branches of the Armed Forces.
Igbo Nation Target Of The Killings
The killings by Nigerian security forces had occurred mostly in Igbo-Christian parts of Eastern Nigeria including Imo, Rivers, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Akwa Ibom States as well as Delta and Cross River States which recorded the lowest number of deaths. Further breakdown indicates that the Nigerian security forces were specifically responsible for killing of at least 1000 defenseless citizens in the East in 2021 while Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen killed not less than 270 in the same 2021. The Nigerian Army had also between October and November 2020 killed not less 150 defenseless civilians in Obigbo (Oyigbo Local Government Area) and its environs in Rivers State and abducted over 700 civilians; and out of the number, 418 have been independently located and freed. While no fewer than 110 defenseless citizens were killed in Obigbo and its environs, the remaining 40 deaths occurred in different secret Army custodies where the Obigbo abductees were secretly detained amidst torture and starvation. Another 100 abducted defenseless citizens were recently (in late November 2021) traced and discovered to have been dumped at Kaduna Prisons and Lock Centers, out of the number, five died. Over 40 of the over 700 abductees were also found to have been killed in various secret Army custodies.