Intersociety decries indiscriminate arrest, torture and detention without trial of IPOB members by DSS
Posted by News Express | 27 August 2016 | 3,212 times
A civil society group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has decried renewed crackdown on innocent citizens and militarisation of some parts of the country.
The group in a statement issued on Friday in Onitsha, signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq.; and Head, Democracy & Good Governance Programme, Chinwe Umeche, Esq. declared that “Regime failures and atrocities in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari have gotten out of hand. The constitutional liberties are in acute jeopardy and security agencies have fully transformed into agents of executive lawlessness and dictatorship. Rights based Civil Society leaders and organizations mainstreamed in the Southwest have become the image launderers and profiteers of anarchy and dictatorship; turning their hitherto goodwill and social sainthood into democratic negatives. Nigerians are now in fears and tears at an unquenchably alarming speed.
“While pet dogs’ owners and citizens who never use or advocate violence or take up arms against the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any part thereof; are hunted and hounded in prisons and other detention centres with reckless abandon, government-armed criminal citizens and others who have taken up arms against Nigeria and Nigerians and graduated into broad-day and late night murderers and marauders; are being reached for presidential handshakes and sharing ofstolen or diverted “national cakes” derived from import duties, oil/gas sales and reckless public borrowings.
“It is on these saddest notes that we, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law announce to the world that the Nigerian Secret Police (DSS) and other security agencies particularly the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force have again gone on rampage. As a matter of fact the Southeast and the South-south Nigeria are under siege and terror conquest; courtesies of government-armed/backed non-State actors and murderous State actors (i.e. DSS, Police, Army and Fulani Islamist Terror Group). In our recent demographic and geographic observation tour of the Southeast: covering Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi States, we shockingly observed that the zone is flooded with rampaging Fulani herdsmen and their herds of cattle with various military checkpoints as their protective backups. Most of the bushes located along major federal and state roads have already been taken over by the killer-herdsmen.
“Beyond the above non-state actor’s well coordinated invasions and terror against the innocent citizens of the Southeast and their natural environments; State actor violence and other forms of brigandage against the citizens of the Southeast and the South-South zones are on steady increase. That is to say that the two zones are victims of crimes against civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights; committed with reckless abandon by the administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Of these, the civil and political rights of unarmed and non-violent citizens of the two zones particularly the nonviolent advocates of Biafran Self Determination Rights are threatened and terrorised on daily basis with reckless abandon.
“As we speak, private homes and residences of IPOB activists are under siege. Raids or invasions are indiscriminately carried out particularly in the hours of the blue law or late nights. Scores of IPOB activists have been arrested and detained by the DSS. Doors are smashed and broken and non-criminal house-hold properties are either destroyed or confiscated with impunity. Such late night invasions or raids are conducted in utter secrecy and in grave violent and unprofessional manners. In most cases, victims are trailed in late evenings from their meeting or working places or social outings and traced to their ad hoc or substantive abodes; after which their movements are closely monitored to ensure their presence before being ambushed in late nights or in their sleep. Cases abound where IPOB activists in their sleep are shot and battered before taken away.
“In all our findings, we did not come across a credible single case of IPOB activists resisting arrest or bearing any arm even in the dead of the night or at ungodly hours, yet they are shot at and sometimes killed on the spot. The arrested IPOB activists are also detained under torture for months without trial or charge. Those shot and battered in their late night arrest are usually abandoned in their captors’ cells to bleed and die or bleed to death. Totality of these is not only unknown to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, but it further violates gravely Nigeria’s sacred regional and international obligations. It also constitutes crimes against humanity; frowned at by the international customary, humanitarian and human rights laws of the UN and the AU.
“Statistically speaking, Citizen Chidiebere Onwudiwe is Nigeria’s National Coordinator of IPOB and a trained Mechanical Engineer with lawful means of livelihood. He was trailed and traced to his residence near Port Harcourt by DSS in the evening of 22nd June 2016 and his abode was violently attacked in late night of same day/early morning of the next day; leading to his violent arrest while in sleep. Engineer Onwudiwe has remained in the DSS custody without trial or even charge since June 22, 2016; a period of 64 days. The DSS attempts to label him “a terrorist” during its press conference were strongly and expertly challenged by some rights based CSOs Intersociety inclusive.
“As if these were not enough, the authorities of the DSS trailed and traced Citizen Justice O. Udeh (an official of IPOB in Aba, Abia State) to a place he had gone to pass a night and violently arrested him in his sleep. The raid took place in the late night of 13th of July 2016 near Port Harcourt in Rivers State. Citizen Justice Udeh is one of the officials of IPOB in Nigeria. Since his arrest; a period of 43 days today, he is neither released nor put on trial.
“The case of Citizen Sunday Chuks Obasi is the crudest and most shocking of it all. Citizens Chuks Obasi is the Nnewi-Ichi Coordinator of IPOB. He was trailed by the DSS from Port Harcourt where he had gone on a trip and in the late night of 16th of August 2016, his residence in Nnewi was violently invaded while he was sleeping. It was in the process that the DSS operatives opened fire on him and shattered his two legs before he was whisked away. Till date, the condition of his gunshot wounds has not been ascertained and he has remained in DSS custody without trial.
“In furtherance of their violent and riotous attacks on Pro Biafra activists particularly the IPOB, the DSS in company of soldiers, police and other members of the Abia State Joint Security Taskforce operating with the Abia State Government procured Hilux vans on the 25th of August trailed and ambushed some leaders and members of IPOB in Abia State who were returning from Abuja. The arrested IPOB activists are Citizens Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Asochukwu Ugochukwu, Sunday J. Okafor, Joseph C. and Ogbuawa C., among them were those released from Aba Prisons on 11th of August 2016 following the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation that charges against them and other Pro Biafra activists in Nigeria should be dropped. They were arrested in the morning of 9th of February and spuriously charged following the army massacre of at least 22 IPOB activists during their prayer procession at the National High School Premises in Aba on the day of their arrest.
“The IPOB activists arrested on 25th August 2016 had since their release on 11th of August 2016 by Aba Magistrate Court 1 and the AGF, been subjected to sundry harassments and intimidations by the DSS, Army and Police in Abia State. Their fundamental human rights to personal liberty, rest and leisure, movement, shelter, expression and association have been gravely threatened; forcing them to go into hiding and sleeping outside their homes. Some of them have also narrowly missed being shot at sight and killed by soldiers. Their names, residences and mobile lines have been tracked, hacked and censored by security agencies particularly the DSS.
“On 25th of August 2016, the five IPOB activists were arrested by a combined team of DSS, Army and Police. It is strongly suspected that they were under DSS watch and trailed by same on their way back to Aba from Abuja. Their Hummer Bus ‘Onyenwe Motors’ was impounded by the named security operatives along Isiala Ngwa area of the Aba-Umuahia Dual Carriage Way near Aba. The impoundment possibly followed a tip off and intelligence information supplied by some undercover DSS operatives about their movement and vehicle. On getting to their vehicle, which also had a few other passengers on board, they were called by their names and the first person (Ogbuawa C.) at the front seat was spotted, handcuffed and mercilessly beaten up, followed by others.
“They were later moved with their vehicle to the Ngwa High School (temporary headquarters of the 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Aba) where more beatings and other forms of torture including use of electric taser were heavily applied. They also had their mobile phones confiscated and seized till now. Five of them and two married women (Ugochi & Anor) were taken back to the scene of their abduction where the two married women were released, with one of them beaten mercilessly.
“The five IPOB activists were seen being taking away and heading towards Umuahia-Aba dual carriage way. Till today, their whereabouts have remained unknown. According to one of the ladies who spoke to Intersociety, she said that she got beaten up mercilessly because one of the soldiers accused her of being the wife of a Niger Delta Avenger and was forcing her to admit so and that one of the plain cloth security operatives she suspected to be a DSS operative told them that their arrest was well planned and the arrested activists carefully trailed, which was why they were called by their names moments after their vehicle was impounded at Isiala Ngwa, near Aba.
“As we speak, 23 other IPOB activists are still languishing in Ikot Abasi Prison Custody in Akwa Ibom State, following their mass arrest on 9th of February 2016 during their peaceful and lawful prayer procession in furtherance of their agitation for and exercise of nonviolent Biafran self determination rights. The names of 23 IPOB activists are Citizens Inua Eshiet Akpan, Marabuchi Ikeotuonye, Benjamin Asonye, Chisom Chichi, Chinedu Okpara, Ndubuisi Ozoemena, Chiadiakaobi Paul, Okorie Ejegbu Chima, Sunday Oko E., Joseph Edet Frank, Emmanuel Eno Uwah, Chimaobi Iwoben, Eze Nwogu, Kelechi Lawrence, Chudwa Chinonso, Chika Chima, Uche Godwin Njoche, Chijioke Gospel Vitus, Ndukwe Eme, Ikenna Ojiekwe, Moses Ngozi Ginikanwa, Chinemerem Chimuche and Odinaka Onyeka.
“By the recent directive of the Attorney General of the Federation that all charges preferred by Federal Government against IPOB and other Pro Biafran activists in connection with peaceful assemblies and protests embarked by the Pro Biafran groups should be dropped and discontinued; which is yet to be reversed; the continued detention of the above 23 IPOB activists and particularly those presently held in the DSS custody is null and void.
“We call on the authorities of the DSS to unconditionally release all IPOB activists in their custody and desist from taking laws into their hands by invading citizens’ homes in the dead of the night, arresting, shooting, torturing and detaining them for months without trial. The incessant harassments and indiscriminate arrests of IPOB activists in particular and Pro Biafran activists in general must stop. All the IPOB and other Pro Biafran activists currently being detained across the country including those in the Ikot Abasi Prisons in Akwa Ibom State should be released unconditionally and their further arrest, harassment and intimidation stopped forthwith.
“The energies and resources wasted in hunting innocent and unarmed IPOB activists and other security irrelevancies such as harassment, arrest, detention and prosecution of pet dogs’ owners should be channeled into teething security challenges such as indiscriminate butchering of innocent and nonviolent Christians, priests, farmers and rural dwellers in the old Middle Belt and Southeast and South-south Nigeria by the government armed, aided and abetted Fulani Jihadists.