Six Igbo Christian soldiers secretly executed in Abuja
Six Igbo Christian operatives of the Nigerian Army attached to the Armory Department of the Nigerian Army, Abacha Barracks in Abuja, have been secretly executed after a hasty secret trial.
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations based in the southeastern part of Nigeria disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.
The coalition, in the statement, gave the names of the executed officers as Prince Ukwuoma, son of a traditional ruler; Ebube Isaiah, Amos Azubuike, Ekene Ebere, Moses Anyim and Godwin Uchendu.
It was gathered that the Chief of Army Staff, Retired Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai ordered for the arrest of 12 soldiers guarding the armory.
The arrested officers included six Igbo soldiers, three Yoruba soldiers and three Fulani-Hausa Muslim soldiers.
The group expressed dismay that at the end only the six Igbo Christian soldiers were executed while “the latter soldiers were shielded and exonerated under questionable circumstances”.
The statement reads:
“We have received with rude shock and deepest dismay the Monday, 25th Jan 2021 secret execution of six Igbo Christian soldiers, attached to the Armory Department of the Nigerian Army, Abacha Barracks in Abuja.
“The slain Igbo Christian soldiers; namely: Prince Ukwuoma, son of a traditional ruler; Ebube Isaiah, Amos Azubuike, Ekene Ebere, Moses Anyim and Godwin Uchendu were secretly executed under the instruction of now Retired Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a day before he left office on Tuesday, 26th Jan 2021.
“This shocking news was disclosed to us by Barr E.R. Okoroafor, an international human rights lawyer, who is very conversant with the matter and was also contacted by one of the slain soldiers through his family to defend them in the trumped up charges, executed using hazy and clandestine Military Court Martial.
“According to the int’l rights lawyer, “sometime in Sept 2020, an allegation of missing weapons was made at Abacha Barracks and it was immediately traced to a senior Colonel of Fulani-Hausa Muslim origin and instead of the COAS to issue query and sanction the Colonel, he exonerated him on the grounds of his tribe and religion.
“The COAS turned around and ordered for the arrest of 12 soldiers guarding the armory, comprising six Igbo soldiers, three Yoruba soldiers and three Fulani-Hausa Muslim soldiers.
“In the end, the latter soldiers were shielded and exonerated under questionable circumstances and the six Igbo soldiers made to face secret court martial during which they were blocked and prevented from having access to their families and defense lawyers of their choice”.
“Barr E.R. Okoroafor also told the Coalition that his attempts to stand in for the Igbo soldiers were stiffly opposed and he was flimsily told by the Army’s Legal Department that “civilian lawyers are not allowed to defend the accused soldiers except military lawyers”.
“Their trial was totally shrouded in secrecy and never disclosed to the public through Army statements till date; likewise their constitutional right of appeal to Court of Appeal and Supreme Court which was also totally denied.
“The persecuted and executed soldiers protested their innocence to the point of tendering their resignation in protest; all to no avail.”
The coalition also expressed doubt whether the offense of ‘missing weapons’ in peace time is commensurable with death sentence in the Nigerian Military laws, all subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Another shocking part, the statement said, was where the immediate past Army Chief derived his power to order for secret execution of “justly” and “unjustly” convicted soldiers.
The Coalition therefore notes further that dozens, if not hundreds of Igbo soldiers have in recent times particularly since 2017/8 died under similar circumstances both in battle fronts and ‘peace time’.
“Additionally, there have been several reported and unreported cases of dismissals, resignations and desertions involving soldiers and officers of old Eastern Nigeria extraction on account of the ethnic cleansing under Buratai as Nigerian Army Chief,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the CSOs have launched a campaign against the former Chief of Army Staff—Buratai that might see him incarcerated for life and and when adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hagues, Netherlands.
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