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Killings, abduction in S’East: Group berates security agencies

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By Lawrence Nwimo 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a research and investigative rights group, has reported that no fewer than 2,000 citizens in Eastern Nigeria have since January 2021, been abducted by various security operatives in Nigeria.

Among the security outfits fingered by the group are the Nigerian Army and operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Navy, Department of State Service (DSS) and others.

The allegations were contained in a statement signed by the group’s Principal Officers, Nze Emeka Umeagbalasi, Barr Chinwe Umeche, Barr Obianuju Igboeli, and Barr Chidimma Udegbunam.

According to the group, out of the over 2,000 victims, nothing less than 500 have disappeared and feared killed in secret custody of the Army, while others “have been made victims of unlawful executions and will never return alive.” 

“The abduction involved the victims being secretly arrested at ungodly hours, falsely and criminally labelled without conclusive investigations; the victims were held secretly amidst torture and other degrading treatments or punishments; and treated ‘extra jus’ detention without fair court trial and access to the victims by their families, physicians and lawyers.

“The military and police killings involved not less than 40 killed in Imo, 30 in Akwa Ibom, 20 in Abia, 15 in Rivers, 13 in Anambra, 10 in Ebonyi, 8 in Cross River, 5 in Enugu and none in Delta. All the states mentioned are collectively the victims of the ongoing military abductions and disappearances.

“In the area of inter-agency responsibility as regards to the abductions, killings, and disappearances, etc; soldiers of the Nigerian Army are the most crude, brutish and unprofessional; accounting for many of the killings and most of the disappearances.

“Soldiers, police and DSS shared responsibility for abducting no fewer than 2,000 Easterners since January 2021. This, they jointly did through late night house raids, house-to-house search, stop-and-search and other forms of operational patrols.” 

The group further reported that, “while police personnel abducted and kept most of the abductees alive amidst torture and other inhuman treatments including detention without trial; soldiers and DSS are notoriously known to be abducting and taking the abductees to unkempt places where access to their families, physicians and lawyers is totally blocked and denied.”

They also noted that the DSS operatives, soldiers and personnel of the Nigerian Navy were also known for holding their captives for several months or years outside public knowledge, official records and court trial.

“We have made recent discovery of secret transfer of between 300 and 350 abducted Eastern citizens to Makurdi Prisons (Correctional Facility), in Benue State. They were among those abducted in Imo, Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi, etc. and held in secrecy for months before secretly transferred to the named prison facilities.

“Information concerning the whereabouts of those abducted by soldiers and DSS including the estimated 500 disappeared citizens has remained unavailable; thereby raising serious concerns over their safety, including whether they are still alive or not.”

            In a related development, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in a statement titled: “Enough is enough,” condemned the continued attacks on security personnel and destruction of public facilities in states across the country.

The statement issued in reaction to the recent destruction and setting ablaze of Police ‘B’ Division and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Awka, Anambra State, said, “It is unfortunate and despicable that the state is sliding into anarchy and lawlessness due to callous and unconscionable actions of some disgruntled people.”

They said: “Violence, maiming, killings and arson cannot be a solution to any problems rather it will increase problems because money that will be used to provide basic necessities of life will be utilised for replacement of damaged facilities.”

They called for a more collective and collaborative efforts of both the government and citizens to restructure and reinvigorate security architecture for effective and efficient policing and securing of the country, her citizens, including public and private facilities. 

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