The killing of at least 11 protesters and several others injured, when pro-Biafra protesters clashed with armed security operatives at the wee hours of Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State, have been condemned by the Executive Director of The Civil Liberty Organization (CLO).
According to a statement made by the CLO through its Executive Director, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, amongst those allegedly killed by the joint military operation was a 21 year-old Nkiruka Anthonia Ikeanyionwu, from Adazi Nnukwu Anambra state and schooling at Fedral College of Education Umunze, Anambra State, adding that those injured are currently receiving treatment in undisclosed hospitals in the state, even as 100 others are reportedly being detained in Abuja by the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
Over the past few weeks, some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have been constantly protesting the continued detention of their leader and the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who was arrested and detained by the Nigeria’s secret Police since October 17, 2015.
The group, in its statement, expressed concerns over the continued detention of Mr. Kanu despite a Court Order which have granted him bail.
“It has become the tradition of the Nigerian authorities to rudely disobey court orders. This, we fear, may seriously threaten our civil rule and viciously return our society to the yester years of impunity, terror and executive lawlessness.
“Only few weeks ago, the court Order granted to the National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) to travel overseas for medical treatment, was disobeyed by the Nigerian government. His house has been under siege since the court order was granted without the repeal of the order by a court of higher jurisdiction.
“On Tuesday, the former Chairman of Daar Communications, Dr Raymond Dokpesi was allegedly detained on oral invitation to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, an act constitutional lawyers say amounted to the breach of the law. We are ashamed to learn that Dr. Dopkesi is allegedly remanded on the primitive Holding Charge (colonial) Law which is no longer in the legal code of our country.
“CLO, though in absolute support of the war against corruption by the current government, will not support impudent violation of the rights of the citizens by the authorities acting in contrary to the provisions of the law, no matter the excuse. Even where murder allegation is involved, nothing can justify the abuse of the rule of law, human rights and due process while the matter is being investigated. It looks odd to parade and hold suspects who are being investigated by security agents in guilt as if they have been found guilty by the courts,” the statement said.
Speaking further, Ezike said “The CLO views the shooting of armless civilians by soldiers and other security agents in Onitsha, especially at the odd hour of 1:30 am as a case of gross violation of human rights, use of excessive force and a crime against humanity. This barbaric act has no place in a modern society as it also gravely undermines all United Nations (UN) African Union (AU) and other international, regional and national human rights mechanisms. Nothing, whatsoever, can justify this flagrant infraction on the rights of the citizens. Absolutely nothing!
“On the war against corruption, while CLO maintains zero tolerance for corruption and other social vices and crimes, we shall strongly continue to disassociate ourselves from the violation of our laws and human rights on the altar of fighting graft and other crimes in Nigeria. CLO, in a very strong term, condemns this abuse of the Constitution by the Nigerian authorities and demand the return to the use of due process and respect for the rule law in addressing corruption issues.
“This kind of exercise was last experienced in Nigeria in 1999 and 2000 when the Obasanjo regime sacked Odi community in Bayelsa and Zaki-Biam in Benue states through executive terror and lawlessness.
“We urge the Nigerian government to deploy the energies and resources being wasted on armless citizens to confronting more serious issues of Boko Haram and other criminal elements whose activities terrorise and ravage our country, which have turned our young soldiers’ wives into widows in our barracks, children into orphans and our communities into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. The time and resources employed in executing a war against armless and hapless citizens cannot do us any good,” he said.
Adding that “The CLO urges the federal government to handle the agitation issue by the youth in the South East and any other parts of the country with care so that it does not escalate into a full blown crisis. Nigerians cannot afford to fight two or more wars at the same time. Meanwhile, reports are ripe that the ethnic rights activists in the Niger Delta popularly called militants have started regrouping for actions against the Federal Government.
“In view of the foregoing, the CLO demands as follows that the National Assembly and the National Human Rights Commission conduct full, unbiased, thorough and honest investigation into the alleged shooting, killing and injuring of innocent and armless citizens in Onitsha, Anambra state, with the view to getting to the root of the heinous act and ensuring that justice was absolutely done.
“That Mr. Nnamdi Kanu whose wife, Mrs Uchechi Okwu-Kanu, is under 8 month pregnancy and whose bail has been ordered by the court be released immediately in consonance with the provisions of our law. CLO insists that the continued detention and torture of Nnamdi Kanu against the order of a Court is an invitation to crisis and anarchy.
“The Immediate and unconditional release of all the unlawfully detained IPOB protesters across Nigeria, and a stop to unlawfully using security agents to rudely violate our laws, infringe on human rights of the citizens, disobey due process and remand suspects beyond the limit of the law.”
In the statement, the CLO also added that “While as a Pan Nigerian human rights organization we hold tenaciously to one just, united, equitable and free Nigeria, we wish to note that protest is an inalienable right of the people while the rights to demand for justice, equity and accountability on one hand, and the right to self -determination on another, are enforceable under the UN and AU regulations or mechanisms to which Nigeria is a signatory.
“The CLO is hugely shocked by this act reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship and cautions against return of our society to executive lawlessness, impunity and infringement on human rights and civil liberties.”