. . . No fewer than 3,000 unarmed and defenseless civilians abducted and detained or disappeared, says Intersociety
. . . Demands their immediate release
The combined forces of Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police Force, joined by DSS, Naval and Air Force personnel have in the past eight months or November 2020 to June 2021 abducted and detained or disappeared no fewer than 3,000 unarmed and defenseless civilians (all Christians) in Eastern Nigerian states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers.
This is according to International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), as contained in a statement issued on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, signed by the group’s Principal Officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Esq., Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Chidimma Udegbunam, Esq. and Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku.
According to the rights group, “The abductees include 112 mostly Igbo civilian citizens residing in Obigbo, Rivers State, abducted and secretly disappeared by the Nigerian Army since October/November 2020 and later found to be held in Niger State. ‘Abduction’ is technically used in the instant case because their families and lawyers have till date been denied knowledge of their whereabouts and blocked from visiting and seeing them in custody or having them charged to Court and given fair trial and fair hearing. The 112 mostly Igbo civilian citizens of Obigbo residency have for almost nine months remained in the Nigerian Army’s Alpha Military Commando Base located along Bida-Suleja Road, Bida in Niger State in Northeast Nigeria. They have also been held secretly without administrative or court bail. The most shocking part of it is that four of them (Ekwueme Thomas, Pius Onochie, Obinna Akapuru and Monday Ifeanyi) have died in custody and whereabouts of their bodies are not known to the public or their families.
“The remaining 108 still secretly being held are part of no fewer than 550 civilians abducted by soldiers and secretly bundled to Niger State and other parts of the North between October and November 2020. Their abduction followed the Army’s invasion of Obigbo in October 2020 during which not less than 110 defenseless civilians were massacred, hundreds injured, dozens of young women raped severely and severally and civilian properties worth hundreds of millions of naira set ablaze or destroyed by the rampaging soldiers. Following the discovery of some secret locations where the abductees were taken to and held, in addition to public and media outcries and efforts of Barr Richard Okoroafor, Intersociety and leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra and others, 283 were judicially rescued and over 270 have remained in secret custody of the Nigerian Army and among them are the 112 abductees who were discovered in February 2021 in Niger State and another 26 secretly transferred by soldiers to DSS detention facilities in Abuja. It must also be remembered that it was in the course of locating the whereabouts of the 112 Obigbo civilian abductees that Barr Richard Okoroafor, an International Human Rights Lawyer, narrowly escaped being assassinated on 25th February 2021 by killer operatives suspected to be working for the Government of Nigeria along the Suleja-Abuja Highway. The Lawyer’s mother was also on 19th May 2021 assassinated by suspected Government hired gunmen at the entrance of her residence in Ekiti State, Southwest Nigeria.
“Similar conduct atrocities by the Army, Police and others have been extended to the named nine Eastern States since January 2021. This followed targeted killing of some security personnel and destruction of Government facilities by “Unknown Gunmen” which the Nigerian Government accused the Eastern Security Network, a forest based anti Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen’s terror Vigilante Group, belonging to the Indigenous People of Biafra of being responsible; an accusation the group strongly denied. Intersociety had apart from investigating the Obigbo Army massacre, also conducted investigations into the atrocities by the Nigerian Government joint security forces in Eastern Nigeria and found as at date that “the security forces led by the Army and the Police had between January and June 2021 killed at least 370 mostly innocent and defenseless citizens or 480 of them if counted from Oct/November 2020, injured hundreds, abducted and detained no fewer than 3000, disappeared 762 (presumed killed in secret military, police and DSS custodies) and burnt or destroyed civilian properties worth hundreds of millions of naira”. Among the 3000 abducted and incarcerated civilians of Eastern Christian Nigerian citizens are over 300, located recently in Benue State where they were secretly transported by Army and Police and held in different secret and open detention facilities.
“The Intersociety findings above are contained in the reports of 31st May (updated on 14th June) and 17th June 2021. On 20th June 2021, we released an investigative statement identifying names of the senior Army officers in Eastern Nigeria involved in the ongoing killings, maiming, abductions and disappearances. Missing in the list of the perpetrators is Col Abubakar Abdullahi, Deputy Army Public Relations Officer of the 82 Division, Enugu. On 29th June 2021, another investigative statement was released exposing the involvement of the Nigeria Police’s Force Intelligence Bureau led by DIG Tijani Baba in the attempted assassination of the IPOB Lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor which took place on 6th June 2021. It must also be noted that in the killings, abductions and disappearances above highlighted, Imo and Abia states are the worst hit, accounting for many of the state actors’ conduct atrocities. Till date, none of the perpetrators has been fished out by Nigerian Government or Court and held accountable. See www.intersociety-ng.org for more details.”
Intersociety in the detailed statement spoke about “Constitutional Safeguards Grossly In Breach”. It said: “Rules of Engagement and constitutional safeguards have been breached with reckless abandon by the Nigerian security forces in Eastern Nigeria. Our several investigative findings specifically showed that soldiers of the Nigerian Army and other branches of the Armed Forces are the worst violators when it comes to abduction of civilian citizens and their incarceration or disappearance in custody. Despite the fact that the laws of Nigeria and several judicial pronouncements have ostracized the Military from constant arrest of civilians and their indefinite detention without trial and torturing and killing them in custody; the Nigerian Military has arrogantly remained above the law. This is to the extent that details regarding civilians abducted by them and access to them by their families and lawyers while in military custodies are hardly made public or communicated to their families and lawyers. Despite the fact that the Military lacks power and skills to detain, investigate and prosecute civilian citizens especially those abducted in peacetime security operations, they have resorted to holding their abductees indefinitely in their secret custodies leading to indiscriminate torture, sexual abuses and death of many in custody. The Obigbo Army massacre, abductions and sexual violence are a clear case in point.
“It is also our investigative finding that right to personal liberty including right to administrative or Court bail and its principles of fairness in the arrest, detention, investigation and prosecution or discharge and acquittal of civilian citizens under suspicion of offending the law as contained in the Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution, the Access to Criminal Justice Act of 2015 and the country’s acceded rights treaty laws have been observed in gross breach by the Nigeria Police Force, Army and other security agencies in Eastern Nigeria. Following indiscriminate false labeling, hateful policing and soldiering and lack of modern policing skills, civilian citizens in Eastern Nigeria, in their thousands, have been indiscriminately false-labeled and subjected to ‘prosecutorial vindictiveness’. In other words, they are frivolously suspected and falsely labeled; indiscriminately and wickedly arrested and thrown into detention after being slammed with phantom accusations bordering on offenses attracting capital punishments or several years’ imprisonments. To actualize their quest for ‘prosecutorial vindictiveness’, arrested and detained civilian citizens are arraigned in inferior courts with intent to secure the nods of such ‘courts’ to dump them in indefinite detention. These they do recklessly even it is in black and white that such ‘courts’ lack jurisdiction to entertain the phantom felonious charges.
“The Nigeria Police, DSS and the Military also make reckless use of ‘remand orders’ without time limitations and use same to detain and keep civilian citizens in permanent detention. In many cases in Eastern Nigeria, the Nigerian Military and DSS abduct and detain civilian citizens in hundreds for several months without recourse to orders from courts of superior records such as State or Federal High Courts. Totality of the above is a clear and grave violation of the Access to Criminal Justice Act of 2015 and Sections 35 (right to personal liberty and its subsection 4: three months maximum detention timeframe in matters bordering on suspicion of capital offenses and right to conclusive investigation and indictment or discharge and acquittal), 36 (right to Court trial and its subsections 4 and 5: rights to fair hearing and presumption of innocence until judicially convicted) of the 1999 Constitution. Further provided clearly and unambiguously in the Laws of Nigeria are the fact that civilian citizens arrested and taken into detention must be accorded their rights to be investigated and tried, if indicted, in Court, but in practice in present Eastern Nigeria, these have been observed in gross breach by the country’s security forces to the extent that arrested civilian citizens are being kept in detention for several months, if not years without trial or ‘arraigned’ in inferior courts and dumped to rot in detention or ‘awaiting trials’.”
Intersociety listed the following as 112 abducted Obigbo residents: 1. Benjamin Eze, 2. Paul Uwazie, 3. Humphrey Vickie, 4. Peter Umeh, 5. Prince Achi, 6. Odenigbo Israel, 7. Iwuoma Bright, 8. Gift Ivie, 9. Kamso Ignatius, 10. Chibuike Ochi, 11. Bobo Ochi, 12. Ochi Jacob, 13. Mensah Boniface, 14. Nwakaego Ibe, 15. Elechi Sylvester, 16. Amadi Chinasa, 17.Okeke Zechariah, 18. Mebechi Justice, 19. Anwulika Dede, 20. Alphonsus White, 21. Saturday Amonwa, 22. Daniel Onwubiko, 23. Sopuru Onochie, 24. Clifford Francis, 25. Emeka Ugbochi, 26. Echefuna Uchenna, 27. Anthony Okpara, 28. Godswill, 29. Ikenna Abuoma, 30. Paul Nwitte, 31. Okochi Emmanuel, 32. Richard Okoli, 33. Immanuel Sunny, 34. Johnson Akabuku, 35. Michael Azubuike, 36. Oku Confidence, 37. Mark Uche, 38. Dominic Asiema, 39. Freedom Acalpu, 40. Nsikak Friday, 41. Chinonso Amaechi, 42. Bright Sunday, 43. Okpara Dinma, 44. John Igweba, 45. Humphrey Chukwunonso, 46. Boniface Uwuoma, 47. Osaretin Chinda, 48. Ekene Denison and 49. Emma Maduabuchi, 50. Chinedu Kelvin, 51. Osita Austin, 52. Legit Kererei, 53. Eric Alphonsus, 54. Ikechukwu, 55. Godwin Ume, 56. Chinenyeze Ekpere, 57. Innocent Odum, 58.Pastor Uchenna, 59. Boniface Ume, 60.Gilbert, 61. Okafor Kingsley, 62. Chieyuran Ibe, 63. Emeka David, 64. Freedom Acalpu, 65. Sodienye Moses, 66. Onyinye Nwokeke, 67. Monday Ogah, 68. Ifeoma Igwe, 69. Chika Jideofor, 70. Chukwudi Anyazue, 71. Chimezie Ayigbo, 72. Chijioke (from Ekwulobia, Anambra State), 73. Ekene, 74. Nwude, 75. Vincent, 76. Ugochukwu, 77. Andrew Iheme, 78. Thomas Ibekwe, 79. Precious Anozie, 80. Cletus Justice, 81. Augustus, 82. Osita Chikwado, 83. Adams Kennedy, 84.Egesi Geoffrey, 85. Chidi Okeke, 86. Egbo Godwin, 87. Tobechukwu Udoka, 88. Chineyenze Bishop, 89. Akaudo Obinna, 90. Kanyinene Uche, 91. Azubuike Calistus, 92. Victor Ugochi, 93. Okwu Nonyerem, 94. Kamso Anayo, 95. Ebube Kelvin, 96. Emeka David, 97. Sopuru Dikachi, 98. Chibuike Uzo, 99. Osuagwu Emmanuel, 100. Ojiako Bright, 101. Harrison Jude, 102. Winner Onukwube, 103. Chika Dede, 104. Papa Emma, 105. Success Mba, 106. Elvis Chigbu, 107.Clifford Obunneme, 108.Chiefuna Chukwuma, 109.Ekweme Thomas (dead), 110. Pius Onochie (dead), 111 Obinna Akapuru (dead) and 112. Monday Ifeanyi (dead).
Intersociety also highlighted the cases of “106 innocent civilians decongested at Owerri State CID & dumped to rot in detention at Imo Prisons”. It wrote: “The innocent and defenseless citizens including several young women and under age youths, numbering 106 were massively abducted by Police in different parts of Owerri between second and third week of May 2021 and hurriedly “arraigned” using a “special mobile court” organized at the premises of the Owerri State CID and “remanded” at Owerri State Prisons (Correctional Center) on 21st May 2021. They were slammed with phantom charges of “treason”, “treasonable felony”, “arson” and so on. Their “arraignment and remand” was very controversial and generated uproars and outcries which forced the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Lordship, Archbishop Anthony Obinna to visit them at Owerri Prisons on 26th May 2021. Identities of the 106 victims are: (1) Chidi Udechukwu, 42 years old, 2. Chinyere Okoroji (female), 40 years old, 3.Festus Ernest, 40 years old, 4. Tochukwu Ejiba, 35years old, 5. Chiboy Ogbonna, 23 years old, 6. Ifeanyi Opara, 22years old, 7. Yusuf Bello, 20 years old, 8. James Mmereole, 26 years old, 9. Ada Oguamanam (female), 30 years old, 10. Henry Oguamanam, 48 years old, 11. Odunze Chukwu, 21 years old, 12. Sunday Victor, 25 years old, 13. Ozioma Chibuike, 26 years old, 14. Ugochukwu Iwuchukwu, 26 years old, 15. Chijioke Ndubuisi, 45 years old, 16. Uwadiegwu Kingsley, 29 years old, 17. Emeka Leechi Stephen, 34 years old, 18. Aguh Chukwuemeka, 31 years old, 19. Alex Ejike, 31 years old, 20. Bright Umezuruike, 34 years old, 21. Ikenna Egwuatu, 31 years old, 22. Felix Ferdinand, 38 years old, 23. Obinna Uzor, 33 years old, 24. Osondu Orji, 34 years old, 25. Chibueze Chimezie, 23 years old, 26. Opara Mmaduabuchi, 28 years old, 27. Kelechi Edward, 21 years old, 28. Promise Emmanuel, 28 years old, 29. Ogbonna Paschal, 28 years old, 30. Anthony Gbadamosi, 45 years old, 31. Nwachukwu Chilota, 25 years old, 32. Chinedu Osuji, 26years old, 33. Chinonso Onyeka, 26years old, 34. Emmanuel Nwosu, 22years old, 35. Ugochukwu Ojinnaka, 21years old, 36. Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, 37years old, 37. Chukwuma Anukam, 30 years old, 38. Ikenna Eke, 38 years old, 39. Ogbonna Obasi, 42 years old, 40. Okechukwu Anusionwu, 36 years old, 41. John Musa Bawa, 35 years old, 42. Udoka Chukwukere, 22 years old, 43. Lucia Ezebuike (female), 22 years old, 44. Obinnwanne Cynthia (female/underage), 17years old, 45. Chinasa Ike (female), 22 years old, 46. Calista David (female), 56 years old, 47. Chinazaram David, 18 years old, 48. Kingsley Ozumba, 31 years old, 49. Daniel Gabriel, 31 years old, 50. Emmanuel Justice, 35 years old, 51. Obinna Nwadike, 25 years old, 52. Ihechi Ibekwe, 42 years old, 53. Ishaya John, 21 years old, 54. Leonard Chizoba, 29 years old, 55. Chinedu Nwadike, 38years old, 56. Ofili Chukwuemeka, 22 years old, 57. Agbagwa Chidubem, 25 years old, 58. Wisdom Kelechi Orjinta, 35 years old, 59. Promise Ezeukwu, 20 years, 60. Ifeanyi Duruaku, 49 years, 61. Chinedu Nwalaka, 34years old, 62. Onyebuchi Abasirim, 28 years old, 63. Onyii Ugo, 35 years old, 64. Osaze Prince, 20 years old, 65. Desmond Stanley, 45 years, 66. Daniel Akan, 28 years old, 67. Onyekachi Nwachukwu, 32 years old, 68. Princewill Obinna Odoemena, 33 years old. 69. Nwaenyi Mmaduabuchi, 22 years old and 70. Uma Onyemaechi, 25 years old. 71. Orji Solomon, 27 years old, 72. Uzoma Johnson, 19years old, 73. Onyeocha Chukwuebuka, 20 years old, 74. Chukwuemeka Michael, 35years old, 75. Chika Amadi, 32 years old, 76. Bilo Ujunwa, 29 years old, 77. Chimenka Nwaoguru, 28years old, 78. Kenneth Nwosu, 52years old, 79. Godwin Ekeada, 37 years old, 80. Barode Adesuyiode, 29 years old, 81. Oke Kahinde, 29 years old and 82. Emmanuel Egwuonwu, 35 years old, 83. Awurum Mbanu, 29 years old, 84. Anthony Okechukwu, 59 years old, 85.Mmadu Anthony 36 years old, 86. Onyeoziri Alphonsus, 40 years old, 87. Iheeme Victor, 22years old, 88. Kenneth Udensi, 38years old, 89. Okparaugo Uchenna, 38years old, 90. Chibueze Nwokeji, 29years old, 91. Uche Nwachukwu, 30years old, 92.Chika Osuji, 39years old, 93. Last-Born Echenwozor, 62years old, 94.Anyanwu Nnaoma, 25years old, 95.Chigozie Onyeka, 28years old, 96. Okebanama John, 28years old, 97. Ohamara Clinton, 21years old, 98. Ohagim Chibuike, 20years old, 99. Mathew Odunaka, 20years old, 100. Peter Mbah, 45years old, 101. Ruya John, 26years old, 102.Innocent Chinazor, 19years old, 103. Ugonna Dike, 25years old, 104. Onyebuchi Aguzie, 64years old, 105. Chibuzor Onuoha, 38years old and 106. Nkemakolam Okoro, 20years old.”
Intersociety similarly had this to say about “Nonviolent IPOB Members Rotting In Prisons Without Trial”: Ebonyi State 1. Ogbonna Jeremiah (disappeared), 2. Nwogo Nwulegu, 3. Nenwa Oghonna, 4. Nwobodo Nwinya, 5. Ogbonna Samson, 6. Obinna Nwojiji Ezeh, 7. Chubuike Nwoba, 8. Nwali Joseph, 9. Jude Mbam, 10. Naza Ogbonna, 11. Chibueze Nwali, 12. Edwin Ogbonna (abducted and killed). Abia State: 13. Mazi Chukwuma, Coordinator of St Paul’s Zone in Osisioma, abducted on the 26th of April 2021, 14. Mazi Emmanuel Ikechukwu, Coordinator of Stadium road zone in Aba South LGA, abducted on 8th of June 2021, 15. Mazi Chidiadi Dominic, a volunteer from Nsirimo Zone in Umuahia South, abducted on 4th of June 2021. State CID, Abakiliki: 16.Eze Daniel Obinna, 17. Offorbuike Nwambam, 18. Okorie Solomon, 19. Ikechukwu Igboke. Other abductees in Ebonyi: 20. Ama Otti (from Ekoli-Edda), 21. Orji Obasi (from Nguzu-Edda), 22. Okoro Olughu (from Ndi Olughu Edda), 23. Awah Ebube (from Ikwo), 24.Paul Ogbonna (from Uburu-Ohaozara), 25. Elom Daniel, 26. Basil Chukwudi, 27.Omenga Nwanne Nkpo and 28. Monday Chikaodi. Abia State: 29. Ejike Aniadi, 34 years old (from Okija, Anambra State), abducted by Police on 19th April 2021 in Aba, 30. Ibeleme Tochukwu, 35 years old, from Obibiochasi in Imo State, abducted on 15th June 2021.”
The rights group said that the following have been abandoned without trial At Aba Prisons: 31. Michael Tochukwu Orji, 32.Onwumere Nwokeke, 33.Chimezie Eze, 34.Paul Oga, 35.Anyazue Chukwudi, 36. Nwode Uchechukwu, 37. Ekene Okafor, 38.Ekene Egwu, 39. Chijioke Eze Okeke, 40. Eze Solomon, 41. Ugochukwu Okafor,42. Eze Mercy, 43. Ucha Sunday, 44.Chidubem Agu, 45.Nnadozie Ndubuisi, 46.Ayigbo Osita,47. Ifeoma Igwe, 48. Chimee Jideofor. Abandoned without trial at Afaraukwu Prison: 49. Prince John, 50. Ugochukwu Umeh. Abducted on 23rd April and taken to Mogadishu Barracks with five others (numbers 51-55) till date, Abuja: 56. Precious Uwaoma, 57. Michael Ukpai. Others: 58. Chinaza Gideon, from Obowo, Imo State and 30years old, abducted on 14th May 2021 and moved to Abuja on 26th May 2021, 59. Jude Chukwu, 60 years old artist from Umulolo, Okigwe, abducted 23rd Feb 2021 and tagged “Unknown gunman”. Abducted and detained MASSOB members at State CID, Owerri since 18th April 2021: 60. Akachukwu Nwachukwu, 61. Chukwudi Okafor, 62. Kingsley Ukachukwu and 63. Ebuka Okafor. Also abducted and disappeared till date are: 64. Ibe Chisom Amadi, a Port Harcourt based surveyor and father of three, abducted by Police and DSS since 18th May 2021 at Umuegwum, Mbaise, Imo State, 65. Michael Tochi Orji, 22years old hawker, abducted by soldiers in Aba on 25th January 2021 alongside five others who were later tortured to death at the Ngwa High School Base of the 144 Battalion. He was wangled out by his family and transferred to Police from where he was dumped in Aba Prisons. Victims’ numbers 66-83 represent the names of 18 more abducted civilian citizens presently held at the Awka State CID in Anambra State.Intersociety consequently made the following calls: “For unconditional release of all the Eastern Christian citizens named above as well as the remaining 2,700 others wherever they are being held across the country. To the extent that they have been held far beyond the constitutionally limited timeframes of lawful detention clearly set out in Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, irrespective of the offense gravity, their continuing detention in the Nigerian Government secret and open detention facilities is totally unknown to the Constitution and other laws of the country including the acceded treaty laws. The Nigerian Army is inexcusably called upon to immediately and unconditionally free the 108 surviving innocent and defenseless Obigbo residents abducted and secretly held since Oct/November 2020 at the Army’s Alpha Military Commando Base in Bida, Niger State where four of the 112 died recently possibly from custodial torture or shooting or starvation or lack of proper medical attentions. The authorities of the Nigerian Army must also account for their dead bodies and is forbidden from “transferring” or “handing over” the remaining 108 to Police or DSS so as to escape culpability. The abductees having been secretly held for almost nine months without trial are no longer ‘triable’ in any Court in Nigeria and must therefore be released unconditionally, properly catered for apologized to and adequately compensated.” (NewsExpress)