Emene killings: FENRAD drags FG to ECOWAS, AU, UN
Seeks justice for victims of extra judicial execution
Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), an environmental and human rights advocacy group has noted with displeasure the wholesale slaughter of members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Emene of Enugu state, combinedly carried out by Nigerian security agencies, on Sunday, August 23, 2020.
FENRAD learns that members of the proscribed group had gathered at a community school in Emene for training in martial arts or group meeting when men of the DSS stormed the scene resulting in clash and later spraying of live bullets on the unarmed want-away group members.
The incident, it was gathered, led to chaos along St. Patrick’s Secondary School, Emene areas, as Christian worshippers and faithfuls could not access their churches in what was, in various media circles, termed “Black Sunday”.
Sadly, this is not the first time Nigerian security agents would carry out coordinated attacks against the group.
At the outset of the Buhari administration, precisely in December 2015, sympathizers of the group had gathered at National High School Aba to pray when Nigerian soldiers unprovokedly opened fire at them leading to death of scores.
Other of such killings had since followed at Onitsha, Nkpoor, Ebonyi state and elsewhere in southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
In 2017, for example, during a military operation code-named “Python Dance II” or “Egwu Eke”, many IPOB members, mostly of Igbo extraction, were drowned in muddy waters, subjected to inhuman and torturous treatments against the rules of engagement leading to public and global cavil and outcry against the Nigerian military.
To make her actions just, the Nigerian government proscribed IPOB as a terrorist group even when the European Union, United Kingdom and United States differed.
It should be noted that the name “Biafra” and its demonym “Biafran(s)” both are traceable to Nigerian history, especially her 15th/16th centuries’ history with the Portuguese who visited and traded along coastal towns in the present Delta regions and would be adopted as an actual name for the short-lived republic during the crisis of 1967-1970.
Unrehearsed and unresolved, Nigeria had matched to independence with attendant ethnic infightings, squabbles and grabby competitions for power which led to military coups and later civil war.
The causes of the war are not themselves addressed to this day hence revisionist adults and youths, historically unaware and uninformed in some cases, call for a rematch, even a revisit of 1960s.
This, FENRAD understands, has always been the trend and trajectory of history of warfare with mankind as seen and evidenced in the World Wars.
Today, with Nigeria still unrehearsed and unresolved, many secessionist groups have emerged mostly in the southeast region revisiting the Biafra question, chiefest among these being Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB as acronymed) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
FENRAD wishes to condemn in sincere and strong terms any act capable of endangering public peace and safety by any group.
FENRAD notes that even though the Nigerian 1999 constitution (as amended) does not contemplate secession, it cannot equally quote or assert itself over subjects of extant public international law.
As a successive state to colonial Britain, Nigeria an independent federation (since 1960) and later a federal republic (since 1963), inherited many international instruments which under international obligation it is bound by duty to respect and protect.
By virtue of adopting in chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution the notion of fundamental human rights and, as it were, being signatory to African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) of 1981 and a member state to the United Nations committed to respecting and observing international human rights law which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Nigeria has a responsibility both domestic and international to ensure that rights (and these include: economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights) of every group are preserved.
Concerning IPOB in Emene of Enugu state, Nigeria is in default of many inter/national instruments.
First, it has violated her own constitution, chapter four (4) precisely; it has violated the UN rights law, especially Paragraph 1 of Article 1, Part I of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which sanctions the principle of self-determination while also accorded people right to their own political status; Nigeria has violated also articles 10 and 11 of the Banjul charter which guarantee rights to freedom of association and of assembly.
While there are many, even, conflicting reports about the Emene killings, what however remains surprising is how an unarmed group could disarm an armed one.
It should also be noted that prior to the clash there was relative peace and calm as the meeting group did not carry out any act that could jeopardize public peace and order.
If there was any intelligence report the agencies have against such gathering FENRAD is not in the know about same.
While the number of the dead is not official yet, IPOB claims that twenty-one of its members died while in some media reports the police had said it was three or some number below double digits, FENRAD seeks and shall see to establishment of the truth.
There is another thing to it; the Nigerian security agencies claim two men of the DSS lost their lives at the hand of the secessionist group and that in that process, arms were taken from them.
If indeed twenty-one members died from within IPOB rank, it is behooveful the group comes up with the names of the victims for the world to see and this applies to the security agencies to equally come up with the names of the slain men.
But if however, twenty-one members died in Emene within the IPOB rank against two within the security agencies’, this then is tantamount to mass atrocity by state actors and total misuse of naked power without due recourse to proportionality.
Today in northern part of Nigeria are armed non-state actors like the dreaded Fulani herdsmen and the so-called bandits all running over that region and disrupting public peace and order, never had the federal government made a single arrest nor prosecution of a single bandit or an armed herder and never had that same government applied the same scale of force it uses on IPOB in this context.
Available records show how the government of Nigeria has had to violate international norms in the handling of the IPOB issue.
Even northern Kaduna and Katsina states in addition to the BAY states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) today are beset with genocidal carnage and terrorism yet the same Nigerian military has not been able to curb, contain and control this.
FENRAD, having studied this trend from the get-go of it to now and guided by respect for international law and regulations will no longer condone rights abuses by any group, be they secessionist or those called to contain them.
FENRAD demands that those alleged IPOB members still in police custody at Enugu be charged to court forthwith.
For the time being, FENRAD is still gathering its facts and will be writing to the ECOWAS, AU and UN. FENRAD wishes to remind the Nigerian government that it is a state party to the Statute of Rome 1998 which empowers the International Criminal Court (ICC, for short) to prosecute matters of genocide, war crimes and other crimes committed against humanity by individuals (not state parties).
Nigeria, FENRAD regrets, should have acted well and better.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Executive Director, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)
Barr. Olusegun Bamgbose
Head Legal Team