The Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs); comprising: Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC), Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group) are saddened and shocked concerning the International Igbo Heroes Day Massacre in various locations in Onitsha and its surrounding communities in Anambra State as well as Asaba in Delta State by the Nigerian Security Forces, dominated by soldiers, navy and police. We are further alarmed by unpardonable lies and wicked regime falsehood running riot in the public media from the direction of the authorities that carried out the massacre and perpetrated the crimes against humanity.
Further shocking and saddening is that the massacre was presidentially ordered through proxy directives and electronically monitored from the Aso Rock. The orders for the massacre were, in turn, carried out by the following sub gubernatorial and securitization authorities: Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State through his Joint Security Taskforce, Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command, Mr. Hosea Karma, the Commander of the 302 Artillery, Nigerian Army, Onitsha and the General Officer Commanding, 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu. Through the existing inter-State security arrangement between Anambra and Delta States, the Delta State Police Command also participated in the massacre by coordinating the Abraka-Asaba section of the massacre.
In other words, the massacre was carefully planned and executed by the referenced authorities. The massacre can also best be described as operation “shoot, kill, pick corpses and bury them beyond detection”. For a clearer understanding, the Anambra State Joint Security Taskforce is composed of the personnel of the Ogbaru Navy Post, Anambra State Police Command, Onitsha Military Cantonment, DSS, NSCDC, Anambra Central Vigilante Service, etc. It is chaired and sub-funded by Governor Willie Obiano and operationally led CP Hosea Karma; assisted by the Commander of the Military Cantonment. The latter’s immediate past Commander is Col Isah Abdullahi.
In the referenced massacre operation, detachments of soldiers from the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army were also deployed and the operation was started in late night of 29th of May 2016. Their murderous operation was kick-started with the invasion of a primary school compound close to St Edmunds Catholic, Nkpor-Agu in Idemili North LGA of Anambra State during which some Igbo Nationality activists who arrived in the night of 29th of May 2016 for Igbo Heroes’ Day anniversary the next day and decided to sleep in the school premises close to the Church, were attacked, shot at and killed while others got critically injured. Some of the survivors were also arrested by soldiers and dumped at the Onitsha Army Barracks till date. The invasion and shooting took place around 1.30am-2am in the early hours of 30th of May 2016.
Apart from our on-the-spot investigation conducted so far for the Coalition by Intersociety, we have also read and studied panicky and defenseless public statements/directives issued by the authorities of the Government of Anambra State (http://www.tv360nigeria.com/pro-biafra-protests-anambra-government-gives-account-happened/), the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu (http://dailypost.ng/2016/05/30/several-soldiers-wounded-by-massob-ipob-members-in-onitsha-nigerian-army/#.V0z5YvgOlbk.facebook) and retiring Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase (http://www.newsexpressngr.com/news/detail.php?news=24098&title=IGP-orders-disarming-of-IPOB-activists,-condemns-alleged-killing-of-officers). We have further listened to defenseless and watery public clarifications concerning the massacre by the Anambra State Police Commissioner and his Public Relations Officer.
In all these, we saw panics, contradictions, presidential and gubernatorial indictments, wickedness, callousness, parasitism, despotism, animalism, crookedness, cowardice, cannibalism, jihadism, ethnic cleansing, hate violence, and rabid falsehood in the said statements and roles of the referenced authorities into the massacre. The most unforgiving of all is the directive of the retiring Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, who labeled the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as “Armed Indigenous People of Biafra” and further directed his relevant subordinates to “disarm the IPOB members and charge its members and other innocent citizens arrested during the incident for murder”. Mr. Solomon Arase who retires on 21st of June 2016 as Nigeria’s worst IGP since 1999, with bucket-loads of blood of murdered innocent citizens on his head, is the principal architect of the ongoing massacre of the defenseless and unarmed Igbo Nationality activists via his riotous and murderous order of 1st of December 2015.
We clearly see the retiring IGP’s latest order as “operation shoot and kill any Igbo Nationality (Biafran) activist at sight or in any gathering”. Labeling clearly non violent and unarmed indigenous rights activists as “armed” without any concrete evidence till date, is murderous and genocidal. The effects of this can beastly be interpreted by killer police officers and uniform jihadists to mean “license to kill” or “order from above to kill”. All the State murders and proxy murders in Nigeria since December 2015 are expressly linked to President Muhammadu Buhari’s reckless use of confrontational and combative words and issuance of war-like and genocidal orders to Nigeria’s security forces against unarmed and nonviolent citizens.
Countering Unpardonable Lies & Wicked Falsehood Of Anambra State Government, Army & Police: From our detailed findings, there is no iota of truth contained in the public statements by the authorities under reference. But we agreed with the aspect of the statement of the Nigerian Army, 82nd Division to the effect that the roles of the Army in the Igbo Heroes Day massacre is “in tandem with the recent directive of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Chief of Defence Staff to the Chief of Army Staff to avert occurrences of such unwarranted and uncivilized assemblies…”.
The Truth Behind Igbo Heroes & Heroines’ Day Anniversary: The 30th of May of every year is set aside since 1966 for remembrance of the fallen heroes of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria. As recently as 2014 and 2015, it was marked in Enugu and Aba among dozens of foreign countries in totally peaceful manners. It is strictly a sedentary event, featuring observance of minutes of silence for Igbo fallen compatriots; stationary rallies and processions, lectures and prayers or church services. It has nothing to do with street protests or demonstrations even though the latter are not constitutionally prohibited in Nigeria. The 2016 anniversary was slated to be held in Onitsha zone and a privately owned newly graded large virgin land space was scouted for and located along Nkpor-Umuoji Road, close to the ALO Aluminum Industry Ltd. We understand that the space belongs to a market association, being cleared for new residential buildings. The Igbo rights campaigners and organizers of the 2016 Igbo Heroes Day Anniversary were allowed access into the space by their owners just for the event.
On 24th of May 2016, a leading advocate of the anniversary, the Indigenous People of Biafra World Wide, addressed a notification letter to the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hosea Karma. The letter was dated 23rd and signed on 24th of May 2016 by Mr. Uchenna Asiegbu; the group’s head of the Directorate of State. The CP was constitutionally charged in the letter to ensure that anniversary was a hitch free and the event venue provided with security. The said letter was successfully couriered to the CP four days to the anniversary. A copy of it is attached below. The CP, on receipt of the letter, neither invited the signatories to the letter or their representatives, nor made any public pronouncement concerning the status of the letter. Unknown to organizers of the event including the IPOB, the letter became a counter measure and State violence working document and based on same, State attacks and violence against the organizers and their supporters were carefully planned. Members of the State Joint Security Taskforce were fully mobilized and deadly armed with more reinforcements from the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army. Through existing inter-State security arrangement between Anambra and Delta States, the Delta State Police Command was also reached out and placed on alert.
With the IPOB and its sister bodies banking on its perceived friendly disposition of the Anambra State based security agencies led by the State Police Command, on account of the said letter, arrival signals and notifications were dispatched by the IPOB and other pro Igbo indigenous rights campaigning bodies to all their members and supporters across the country. Late into the night of 29th May 2016, they found their routes to Onitsha blocked by battle ready soldiers, dominated by uniformed jihadists from the core north. The blocked routes are Onitsha-Enugu Expressway for those coming from Enugu, Ebonyi and Cross Rivers, Benue, Kogi, etc; Asaba-Onitsha Expressway including Niger Bridgehead and Abraka Junction in Asaba, for those coming from Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Delta, Edo and Southwest; and Onitsha-Owerri Dual Carriage Way for those coming from Imo, Abia, Port Harcourt, Akwa Ibom, etc. Many of those that arrived late in the night in chattered vehicular were blocked and forcefully dispatched and turned back by soldiers. A number of them were arrested, beaten up, injured and detained.
Some were shot at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead late into the same night of 29th of May 2016. Those who arrived few hours before the said late night managed to find their way into the venue area; forcing them to squat and sleep at the Primary School, close to St Edmunds Catholic Church at Nkpor-Agu ( which is close to the event venue). Hours later at about 1.30am-2am, rampaging soldiers in military trucks from the Onitsha Military Cantonment; acting under the express instructions of their Commander-in-Chief (Gen Buhari) with the sub directive of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, stormed the School Premises close to the Church and shot at them, killing some and wounding and arresting others.
In the morning of the d-day (30th of May 2016), hell was let loose, with massive shooting of live bullets on target and in all directions by security forces of Governor Obiano’s Joint Security Taskforce. It was also a field day for jihadists and hate killers of core northern Muslim extraction, armed and uniformed by the Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari, under the guise of Nigerian Army or Police Force, as any gathering of three persons and above was greeted with dozens of fired live bullets. Scenes of such deadly shootings include Eke-Nkpor by Umuoji axis, Nkpor Junction, Afor-Nkpor down to Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Flyover Bridge by New Parts Market, Ojoto, Uke and Umuoji axis, Ifite-Dunu, Ogbunike and Ogidi axis, Onitsha Niger Bridgehead, Asaba-Abraka axis, etc. Following the total blockade of all strategic routes to the event venue, the Igbo Indigenous rights activists in their thousands divided themselves into three areas of Ifite-Dunu, Ojoto/Umuoji and Asaba-Abraka/Niger Bridgehead and nonviolently tried to connect the event venue at Nkpor; yet they were pursued and shot at by soldiers, police and navy personnel, leading to scores of deaths and hundreds of deadly injuries. Those who managed to find their way into the event venue along Nkpor-Umuoji were also shot at and violently dispatched.
Casualty Figures & Invasion Of Teaching Hospital By Soldiers: While comprehensive investigations are ongoing, it is our discovery that the planned State violence against members of the Igbo Indigenous Rights campaign movements and their supporters including the IPOB; was further designed under operation “shoot, kill, pick corpses and bury them”; leading to corpses of scores of those killed being picked by soldiers under heavy security in most of the shooting scenes. Two sets of eyewitnesses’ accounts had informed Intersociety on 30th of May 2016 that they sighted three military trucks loaded with dead bodies at Nkpor, heading to Onitsha Army Barracks. One of the eyewitnesses is a journalist who said he counted six and another was an informed IPOB activist who saw two truck-loads of dead bodies. This is not the first time Army has adopted “shoot, kill, pick corpses and bury them” tactics. In the Onitsha massacres of 2nd and 17th of December 2015 of IPOB members and supporters, the murderous soldiers of Onitsha Military Cantonment also made away with corpses of those they shot dead. In the Aba massacres of 18th and 29th of January 2016 as well as 9th of February 2016, they did same. For instance, three of the corpses of IPOB members they killed on 17th of December 2015, were discovered in February and March 2016 by Intersociety at the Onitsha General Hospital. Also, the Anambra State Government through its Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, further attested to the said “shoot, kill, pick corpses and bury them” operational policy, for the purpose of erasing traces.
This was during the Government press conference over the massacre yesterday, being 31st of May 2016. The Commissioner had asked journalists in attendance “have any of you seen any dead body in connection with the incident”? Contradictorily, the same Government had in its same statement “extended condolences to those that died in the incident”.
Apart from ongoing investigation and compilation of the casualty figures, facts at our disposal clearly shows that the casualty figures including the dead and the wounded are swelling in number on daily basis. Fourteen critically injured citizens are presently at the Nnewi Teaching Hospital of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, fifteen are at the Multicare Hospital in Nkpor and nine are admitted at St Mary’s Hospital, Nnewi. There are scores of others scattered in other private hospitals such as Crown and St Michael Hospitals in Nkpor and others in Okija, Asaba, etc. Scores of shot victims have also been taken to undisclosed clinics within and beyond the State by their relatives and sympathizers. Their emergency orthodox and unorthodox transfers followed sundry medical and monetary challenges as well as fears of soldiers storming where they are admitted and abducting them.
The personnel of the Anambra State Police Command, who were later joined by soldiers had also in the evening of the same 30th of May 2016, stormed the Nnewi Teaching Hospital and abducted 12 critically shot victims admitted at the Emergency Unit. Others abducted, according to a key eyewitness and one of the abductees, Ugoo K.C.; are scores of the victims’ relatives and associates who responded to distress calls when their loved ones were shot by soldiers and other members of the Obiano’s JTF. Both the shot victims and their relatives were taken to the State CID in Awka same night and dumped for hours before the shot victims were returned to the Hospital hours later same night, leaving behind their relatives and sympathizers who are still detained till date. The anti humanitarian tactics under complaint are also not new to the murderous soldiers. In late night of 17th December 2015, the same soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment invaded the Multicare Hospital in Nkpor and abducted 22 critically shot victims on emergency admission alongside their relatives and sympathizers. They were shot earlier in the day at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead by soldiers for jubilating over the court-ordered release of IPOB leader, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu (POC). Four later died in the same Hospital owing to delayed treatments occasioned by their late night abduction by soldiers.
We shall respond to unpardonable lies and wicked regime falsehoods and muderous directives of the named perpetrator-authorities in the second part of this statement.
For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Leader SBCHROs & Board Chair, Intersociety
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Comrade Aloysius Attah, Chair, Anambra CLO & Head, Publicity, SBCHROs
Mobile Line: +2348035090548
Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD, Head, Research & Strategy, SBCHROs
Mobile Line: +2348035372962