The Unwarranted Attack At The Owerri Prisons, Police Formations, Army Checkpoints South East; Our Views And Recommendations

Press Release

Gentlemen of the media, I want to begin this media briefing in which I will speak for the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) but on a personal note, I will begin by letting you know that in my personal capacity who is presiding over this media event on behalf of our platform that is non-partisan, non religious, but on, my individual level I won’t say these things if my deeply spiritual faith in God as a Christian is not convinced. As you can see, I brought a copy of the Holy Bible to swear before the Holy Scriptures that as both Christian Moslems and other associated faiths and even as Atheists, what I am going to read on behalf of my organization meets all threshold of ethical, spiritual, legal and moral sanction and rectitude.

We are here to review the series of unfortunate events and Scenarios that have happened in most parts of the South East of Nigeria and in other places such as in Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers State and I think similar attacks happened in Delta State.

We are particularly concerned with the pattern and methodology of these attacks and the ease with which the attackers carry out these dastardly and cowardly , criminal acts and then disappear into thin air only for the Nigerian Police Force to start their empty media propaganda and to hang onto the most untested and ridiculous claim that so far is not evidence based- which is to quickly blame the proscribed indigenous peoples of Biafra and then for the round and round childish debates between the police and someone claiming to speak for IPOB to deny and then the police to stick to their gun and continues to claim that IPOB is responsible and for many weeks, the police has yet to prosecute any of these alleged persons even the police initially described as unknown gunmen in their State Commands.

Gentlemen, we want the Whole World to note that this government has since 2015 openly confessed pathological hatred for the Igbo speaking people of the South East of Nigeria.

The President in his first ever international media interview told the World that the Igbo and South South gave him 5% of votes and so he will not treat the Igbo same way as the North that gave him 95%. True to his word, he has given all the strategic security posts to the Moslem Hausa/Fulani North.

The President did not trust sons and daughters of the South East of Nigeria enough to assign one of the top most internal security jobs even when by merits there are several qualified Igbo speaking officers. By the way, and by way of analogy, the current Army Chief was a Major General. Are there no Major Generals of Igbo extraction or are there no Igbo equivalents of major General in other segments of the Armed Forces like the Navy and Air Force?

The President does not like the faces of Igbo except the person who he made his official photographer. So you can see that the South East of Nigeria has received unfavourable treatment. The key spokesman of the President behaves more like the defender of Miyetti Allah castle sellers than an officer working for the citizens and the Nation Nigeria.

There have been at least one dozens deaths of Civilians by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen in the South East since 2015 till even as recently as two days back. This government did not describe the attacks as terrorism. Even the one in Ebonyi that the friend of the President Governor Umahi directly accused armed Fulani, herdsmen.

The armed bandits destroying North West are terrorists but this government rebaptized them as armed bandits and has watched as someone who is a religious cleric is busy defending these terrorists and even insulting Journalists for calling the armed bandits as criminals. Last time a group affiliated to Fulani herdsmen said they attacked Benue governor but President said nothing.

The National Security Adviser says the man Sheikh Gumi has the right to talk to whomsoever he wishes to talk to but this is the same government that the police have shot and killed about two or more Journalists only because they were covering protests by Islamic movement of Nigeria here in Abuja.

The last attack in the Ebonyi Community by armed Fulani herdsmen in which a priest and 30 other innocent civilians were slaughtered was never described as terrorists but rather Garba Shehu who signed a statement on behalf of the President who reportedly went to see his British doctor, sounded patronizing and dramatic by issuing empty threat to deal with them. Now, the attacks in Owerri has been hurriedly described as an act of terrorism and the IGP whose stay in office is a subject of intense ligation by citizens, quickly said IPOB was responsible and then as expected the so-called spokesmen of IPOB says they were not responsible.

We will show you that there is more to it than meets the eyes when analytically observing the statements of persons who said they speak for Mr. President- the same person who defends Myetti Allah vigorously each time people are killed in Benue or Southern Kaduna even when the survivors says they heard their attackers speak Fulfulde. We suspect that agents of DEEP State may be involved.

Gentlemen, ask the government the following:

1. Where were the Police/Army /DSS/Civil defence when these attackers struck in Owerri and reportedly operated for three hours to an extent that even Akara sellers videoed the incidents but no one counter attack was launched?
2. Is it not these police, soldiers, DSS that usually get wind of IPOB meetings and ESN Camps and usually launch massive counter operation to NIP their activities in the bud with many of the alleged IPOB members killed extrajudicially but gunmen struck and destroyed strategic National Security assets in Owerri but rather than for IGP, DG of DSS, Army Chief and Comptroller General of Prisons to resign for dereliction of duty or to be quarried by the Commander-in – Chief, the President, but the president is now quoted to now said to have bought into the propaganda by the IGP that IPOB was involved even when IPOB according to reports, denied ever being involved? Where are the solid evidences and when was forensic investigations by police carried out or do they work by beer parlour rumours?

3. Why the haste to deploy the military to the East if there is no agenda already packaged long ago only waiting for the trigger to now launch the planned attack? Is the government rewarding failures of all the relevant heads of Security institutions who went to bed and were deep asleep or pretended to be asleep when these God forsaken Violent Criminals hit the prisons and destroyed the entire facility belonging to the Police and yet the Military has a base somewhere only few minutes’ walk from where these gunmen attacked in Obinze?

4. Where was the governor of Imo State during the attack that lasted several hours that even motor park touts videoed? We are calling on the United Nations to note that there is a plan to carry out genocide against innocent Igbo citizens in the guise of looking for IPOB? The United Nations and the international Community must intervene now to stop the Rwanda type genocide that we fear will happen.

Rationally what a decent and thinking government should do is to investigate the attacks using the best global practices unless there were already plots in Abuja to cause maximum chaos in the usually peaceful South East of Nigeria just to destroy the economy of the same people deprived of government Jobs. This systematically points to possible involvement of the DEEP State. It must be investigated by the United Nation and European Union.

We also think that Daily Trust has been recruited as the official propaganda outfit of these plotters who want to destroy the South East. We will show you some of these speeches of these persons to tell you that there is a carefully planned agenda to destroy the South East.

The Nigerian government must never be allowed to repeat the genocide that was carried out against Igbo before the war in the 1960’s

We will hire private investigators allowed by the new police Act to independently unravel the actual Source or Sources of the plot against the South East.

The Central government must not behave like it is out to degrade, decimate and destroy the South East.

Igbo in diaspora who have contacts with World leaders should stop sitting on the fence. Your homeland is about to be desecrated will you not speak out or are you comfortable with these attacks which initially was coloured as targeting security forces and National Security Institutions and now without any sort of investigations, those who are privileged to have been nepotistically appointed into National Offices are now seeking to execute their anti-Igbo agenda.

Here are the speeches. Read between the lines. Then look at the Police Act and the Constitutional Powers of the military and then tell us whether it is ethically, legally, morally right for these same police, military DSS that failed to protect public institutions and their officers most of whom serving in the East especially the police are Igbo, to now be drafted to unleash violence on innocent people.?

FROM THE PRESIDENT AS STATED BY GARBA SHEHU:

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the deadly insurgent attack that took place on the Police Command Headquarters and the Correctional Facility in Owerri, Imo State, on Monday, calling it an act of terrorism.

In his reaction to the incident early on Monday, President Buhari praised the initial response by security guards and security forces for preventing greater loss of life and the destruction of public property.

The President directed security and intelligence agencies in the state and the geo-political zone to fully mobilize and go after the terrorists, apprehend them and get them punished under the full weight of the law.

He also called for the best efforts to be made to rearrest fleeing prison detainees, many of whom are believed to be deadly criminals.

President Buhari then appealed to members of the public to assist the law enforcement agencies with any relevant information that could lead to the apprehension of these criminals who perpetrated this despicable act.

He also urged members of the public to be vigilant as all of us have a stake in preserving our way of life from disruption by terrorists and anarchists while the Federal Government will use every available tool at its disposal to confront and terminate this bare-faced anarchy.

FROM THE IGP

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, says preliminary investigation has revealed that the early morning attack on the Imo State Police Headquarters and a correctional facility was masterminded by members of the Eastern Security Network which was established by the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.

In a statement which CP Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer, issued on his behalf, the IGP gave a marching order to the Commissioner of Police in Imo to carry out thorough investigations into the incident with a view to smoke out the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

“The IGP gave the directives following the attack on security operatives and formations, including the Imo State Police Command Headquarters and the headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) in Owerri in the early hours of today, Monday, 5th April, 2021.

“Preliminary investigations (where, when?) Have revealed that the attackers, who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons such as General-Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN).

“The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the police armoury at the headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by police operatives on duty who repelled the attackers and prevented them from breaking in and looting the armoury. The armoury is thus intact! Similarly, the police suffered no human casualty, apart from a police constable who sustained a minor bullet wound on his shoulder.

“Meanwhile, one of the operational vehicles of the attackers has been recovered by the police and is currently being subjected to forensic scrutiny and investigations.

Daily Trust wrote: Suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have killed 13 Hausa traders within one week in Enugu and Imo States, in what community leaders and security sources described as targeted killings by members of the outlawed group.

Many police personnel have been killed and facilities torched in escalating attacks on security agents in the south-eastern and south-south regions.

FROM THE 2020 NIGERIA POLICE ACT

DUTIES OF THE POLICE FORCE

A cursory review of the Act reveals that the ambit of the Force operations has been broadened to facilitate the achievement of its general objective which is to provide an effective police service that complies with the principles of accountability, transparency, protection of human rights and freedom.Section 4 of the Act is replete with extensive functions of the Force, notably, imposing an obligation on the police to protect the rights and freedom of every Nigerian in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and other applicable laws.An interesting initiative of the Act is the recognition of private detectives and investigators. Section 4(a)(i) of the Act provides that the Force is responsible for vetting and approving the registration of Private Detective Schools and Private Investigative Outfits. This is a novel provision which raises a lot of optimism for crime detection and investigation in Nigeria. Private detectives are generally afforded more time and flexibility to investigate a wide range of matters and this is certainly welcome in light of several daily reports of crime. It also underlines the collaboration between the government and private security outfits in ensuring peace and order.A controversial provision of the Act which has sparked more than whispers of trepidation, especially amongst the Nigerian youths is Section 38(1)(a). The provision states that a police officer may without an order of court or warrant, arrest a suspect whom he suspects on reasonable grounds of having committed an offence (unless the law creating the offence prohibits any arrest without a court order). While the good intention of this provision is somewhat visible, it is hard to reconcile this with the reality of many victims of police brutality where they are unjustly profiled by the police as criminals and arrested immediately. There is a reasonable fear that this provision will give police officers the legal backing to perpetuate wanton arrests.

Nigeria Police Force

Section 214. (1) There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution –

(a) the Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly;

(b) the members of the Nigeria Police shall have such powers and duties as maybe conferred upon them by law;

(c) the National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria Police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields.

The arm forces

Section 217 (1). There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.

2. The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of

a. defending Nigeria from external aggression

b. maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air

c. suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly And

d. performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

3. The composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria.

Definition of deep state:

: An alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (as in the financial services and defense industries) operating extralegally to influence and enact government policy

The power of the deep state comes from experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, traditions, and shared values. Together, these purported attributes make nameless bureaucrats into a super government that is accountable to no one. That is a scary prospect.

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.

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