Open Letter To Obiano: Fish out key actors in Okija cult violence & communal terror
Fish out all violent key actors in Okija cult violence and communal terror and free the community from the grip of violent cultists and other acts of barbarism and terror
Okija Community located in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State is now a center of violent cultism and communal terror. The ongoing atrocities in the ancient Community include state actor indiscriminate arrests, frame-ups, unlawful detention and torture, etc; and non state actor killings, maiming, abductions, alleged ritualism, armed robbery and sexual offenses such as rape and sexual harassment, etc.
Dating back to over 2010, some persons had gone after communal lands in manners strongly suggesting forced procurement or forced possession, forcing their communal owners to rise in opposition.
With protracted polarization of the Community’s Town Union leadership and Chieftaincy Institution and glaring partiality of the security agencies and the Government of Anambra State, the dispute escalated and transformed into cult and other forms of group violence, maddeningly reaching its peak since Nov 2020-with the importation of cultists and rivals others which led to the present mayhem.
Today, dozens involving imported cultists and locals have been slain with some having their throats and heads sliced. At least ten of the slain bodies have been recovered and buried by their families and there are disappearances of scores of others suspected to have been buried secretly to evade traces or disappeared for purpose of suspected ritualism.
Cases of armed robbery, arson, burglary, house breaking, theft, stealing and other types of crimes against persons and properties have also been reported. In all these, the security agencies particularly the Anambra State Police Command and the State’s Joint Security Taskforce as well as the present Government of Anambra State are apparently accused of incompetence and taking sides, allowing the Community to become a brutish and barbarous jungle; with the only role of the State Police Command appear to be ‘collecting corpses of the slain and depositing them in the mortuaries’.
It must be recalled too that the genesis of the ongoing Okija cult mayhem and communal terror is traced to the activities of some ‘Troublesome Billionaires’ including communal land grabbing, power tussle and leadership imposition, etc.
In the land grabbing disputes that originated the present cult mayhem and other forms of terror, the villages originally affected are Oghelegbu, Ubahu-Ugwucheleku, Umuhu, Ohukabia, Ubahudara, Umuogu and those indirectly affected are: Umuatuegwu, Ihite, Isieke, Ubahumonum, Umufor and Umuohi.
Out of the above named, at least five have become the center of the ongoing killings and terror and they are Oghelegbu, Umuogu, Umuhu, Umufor and Ubahu. In this outgoing week alone, no fewer than eight citizens have been killed in the Community, with four persons slain on Tuesday and two each on Wednesday and Thursday and these have continued.
The Government of Anambra State and Gov William Obiano as the Chief Security Officer and the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force including its Force CIB/SCIB and Force CID/SCID are strongly and urgently called upon to act immediately without further biases, excuses and delays. Commensurate security strategies and tactics must be worked out, put in place and enforced to the letter.
All the violent key actors, irrespective of who they are or their wealth, must be fished out, investigated and prosecuted and all the opposing violent cultists causing the mayhem fished out and prosecuted and their rifles or arms recovered and warehoused.
There shall be combined intervention of criminal intelligence and detection personnel including SSS, Force CIB/SCIB and Force CID/SCID and crack team and operations police personnel and those of the Joint Security Taskforce and the latter must intervene strictly based on intelligence validly supplied by the former so as to avoid quackery, false labeling, trumped up arrests including the uninvolved and abuses of human rights.
To substantively resolve the protracted polarization of the Community’s Town Union leadership and Traditional Institution and disputes or conflicts over Land Grabbing especially in the affected villages, it is our demand that the Governor of Anambra State should set up an independent Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Okija and muster credible political will to implement and act on recommendations of the Panel.
Who becomes a member of the Panel from the Community must be considered by the Gov based on unbiased joint intelligence reports supplied by SSS or Force CIB/SCIB and member representing the area in the State House of Assembly.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist and Graduate of Security Studies, M.Sc., Peace and Conflict Studies
Chinwe Umeche, Esq., LLB, BL
Head, Democracy and Good Governance
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., LLB, BL
Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
Chidimma Udegbunam, Esq., LLB, BL
Head, Campaign and Publicity
Comrade Chibueze Nwajiaku, B.Sc.
Head, Policing and Law Enforcement Unit