Genocide Across The Niger: How Over 90 Biafran Heroes Day Activists Were Massacred By Security Forces & Buried In Military Cemetery Inside Onitsha Army Barracks
(Onitsha Nigeria, 6th of June 2016)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) is deeply alarmed and saddened over the rising shocking casualty figures from the last Monday (30th of May, 2016) massacre and genocidal butchering of over 120 unarmed and nonviolent citizens of Southeast and South-south regions of Nigeria by security forces while converging in Onitsha to mark the 2016 session of the decades old “Igbo (Biafran) Heroes Day Anniversary”. The widespread State violence resulting to the genocide, was perpetrated by security forces through presidential and gubernatorial directives of President Mohammadu Buhari and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and it was operationally led by Major C.O. Ibrahim of the Nigerian Military Police at Onitsha Army Barracks, for Nigerian Army; followed by DCP J.B. Kokomo (DC OPS, Anambra State Police Command) and DCP Makama (2i/c Anambra State Police Command) and ACP H. Ezekiel (Onitsha Area Commander) for Nigeria Police Force as well as operational heads of other members of the Anambra State Joint Security Taskforce.
The general coordination of the massacre operation was administratively overseen by the Onitsha Military Cantonment Commander, Col Isah M. Abdullahi (still the Onitsha Army commander) and Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hosea Karma. The Divisional Police Officers of Fegge (SP Rabiu Garba), CPS (CSP Jafaru), Inland Town (SP Mark Ijaradu), Okpoko (CSP Kayode Olabanji) and Ogidi also participated. The operation was conducted by the Joint Security Taskforce (JTF) of the Government of Anambra State, involving Nigerian Army in Onitsha; Nigeria Police Force, Anambra State Command and its SARS Unit; Nigerian Navy, Ogbaru Post; DSS, Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps and the National Drugs Law Enforcement; but was hijacked by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment with reinforcements from the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu; leading to most of the killings perpetrated by soldiers; most of them jihadist citizens of northern Muslim extraction. The JTF security operations in the State are funded and chaired by Governor Willie Obiano in his capacity as the Chief Security Officer of Anambra State.
The vicarious and individual responsibilities of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army through its Chief of Army Staff (Lt Gen Tukur Buratai), the Nigeria Police Force through its IGP (Mr. Solomon Arase) and the Government of Anambra State through its Governor (Willie Obiano) are expressly contained in their violent orders and directives against peaceful assemblies and free speeches in Nigeria. The President, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, recently issued a violent order to Nigeria’s security forces particularly the Nigerian Army, to “crush and quell” “unwarranted”, “provoked” and “uncivilized” assemblies of nonviolent and unarmed nature organized by self determination and indigenous rights activists in southeast and south-south Nigeria or in any part of the country. The Nigerian Army, on its part, has operationally tagged such nonviolent and constitutional assemblies as a “threat to national security” and “insurrection” or violent uprising against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is contained in its November 2015 operational guidelines.
The Nigeria Police Force, through its retiring IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase, has also issued two violent directives on 1st December 2015 and 31st May 2016; directing all its zonal and State heads in the Southeast and the South-south zones to “violently crack down on such assemblies”; “arrest and charge their organizers for treason”; and “disarm them and charge them for murder”. Till date, no pro Biafran or Igbo indigenous rights activist has been caught bearing arms or using or advocating violence in Nigeria or any part thereof. The Anambra State Police Commissioner, Mr. Hosea Karma, on his part, has also issued a public statement recently, claiming that “the activities (peaceful protests and processions) of MASSOB and IPOB in the State are one of his greatest security challenges”. Governor Willie Obiano, too, has severally described peaceful and nonviolent protests and processions organized by IPOB and its sister bodies as “activities of the hoodlums threatening the security of Anambra State”. There have been several invasions of meeting places of IPOB and its sister groups across the State including Nkpor and Obosi by SARS and soldiers, acting under the directives of the Governor and execution of their ethnic cleansing agenda against the Igbo Race.
All the violent orders and directives above mentioned, are unknown to the 1999 Constitution; which firmly guarantees democratic free speeches and freedoms of peaceful and lawful movement and assembly. Indigenous and self determination rights and their campaigns are also guaranteed by the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of AU of 1981 as well as the UN Universal Rights Declaration of 1948 and International Covenants on Civil & Political Rights and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1976; provided they are nonviolent and outside the purview of armed struggle and where armed struggle is resorted to, it is strictly guided by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which include the Doctrines of Rules of Engagement, Use of Force and Self Defense. Nigeria is a State Party to the above rights treaties till date. These sacred rights and international obligations are also entrenched in the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations for the promotion and advancement of international peace and security as well as the basic standards of international law and other international human rights and humanitarian treaties.
From our updated casualty records, apart from over 120 unarmed and nonviolent activists so massacred, over 130 others were deadly injured with automatic rifles loaded and fired with live bullets; shot at close range and targeted at terminal parts of their bodies. Scores have gone missing till date while over one hundred of them were arrested and presently held in the Onitsha Army Barracks, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) at Awkuzu, the Nigerian Prisons in Onitsha and the State CID at Awka, etc. For instance, Twenty-Five of them were dumped in the Onitsha Prisons from Onitsha Army Barracks and 24 are presently at the State CID. Scores of others are also held at SARS in Awkuzu and the Onitsha Military Cantonment in Onitsha. These updates on casualty figures have arisen from facts gathered so far from our ongoing investigations as well as information ascertained from confided army, military police and DSS sources.
Generally, from our investigated and updated accounts, over 200 innocent, nonviolent and defenseless citizens of mostly Igbo Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria have been shot and killed by the security forces particularly the Nigerian Army since 30th of August 2015; a period of nine months and under the Buhari’s Presidency. Sixty percent of them or at least 120 were massacred on 30th of May 2016 at Nkpor and its surroundings, Onitsha; and Asaba in Delta State. In the same genocide of 30th of May, over 130 others were critically shot and wounded; out of which, 79 names are in our advocacy possession with 29 of them in Asaba alone.
Among those went missing is Citizen Chikezie Nwodo, who resides in Enugu. Over a dozen late night invasions and raids have also been carried out by soldiers and SARS operatives in various homes with scores of them arrested, detained or made to disappear. In all, over 200 innocent and unarmed Igbo indigenous rights and Biafran self determination activists have been killed the Buhari administration through its security forces and over 300 others have been deadly shot and wounded within the same period or in the past nine months. Over 600 have been arrested, tortured and detained unconstitutionally across the country with many languishing in different prisons under magistrate court remands after arraigned for capital related offences such as “treason and treasonable felonies”.
The most dangerous and shocking of it all is criminal and abominable resort to use of State coercive instruments by the Buhari administration to organize genocide against citizens of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria. The State atrocity of last Monday 30th of May 2016 in Onitsha was and is still shocking and alarming. It can only be compared to “the Tiananmen Square Massacre” or “June 4 Democracy Massacre” in China in 1989. Yet, it is worse than the Tiananmen Square Massacre in that those that were massacred were not of the same tribe or massacred at the same; which is why Onitsha Massacre of 30th of May 2016 is clearly “an act of ethnic cleansing and genocide”. Unlike other massacres of 2nd and 17th December 2015 in Onitsha and 9th of February 2016 in Aba; the 30th May 2016 massacre is chillingly horrifying in enormity and governmentally barbarous.
How Over 90 Igbo (Biafran) Heroes Day Celebrants Were Massacred & Mass-Buried Inside Onitsha Military Cemetery:
A DSS Source: The source who was part of the last Monday (30th of May 2016) joint operation, hijacked by soldiers; told Intersociety that the massacre, leading to mass death in the hands of soldiers of over 120 unarmed and nonviolent citizens and injuring of over 130 others was well coordinated and a joint security operation sanctioned by the Government of Anambra State, which was hijacked and turned into a slaughter field by soldiers with ethnic cleansing agenda. That the operation started with medium use of force (outlawed) in the late night of 29th of May 2016 and in the morning of 30th of May 2016, the joint security taskforces moved from the Onitsha Army Barracks and stormed the event venue along Nkpor-Umuoji Road where they met hundreds of IPOB activists and others who had converged for the Biafran Heroes Day Anniversary. That they met many of them wailing and crying profusely over the soldiers’ late night invasion, shooting and killing of some of their members who squatted and slept at St Edmunds Catholic Primary School Premises.
That at that point, the JTF retreated to Onitsha Barracks. That their retreat infuriated the Onitsha Military Cantonment Commander, Col Issah M. Abdullahi, who ordered them back, saying that they were under a firm order from the C-in-C and the State Governor to quell the event and ensure it never took place. That he ordered them to clear the place and all roads, of those “miscreants and hoodlums” and “waste” them if they proved stubborn and recover their bodies as ordered by the Army and Government of Anambra State.
That with the firm directive of the Commander; the JTF, dominated by soldiers and led Major C.O. Ibrahim of the Nigerian Military Police; stormed the streets and the event venue. That while other members of the JTF were minimizing the use of force, soldiers recklessly opened fire at the activists at close range, shooting them indiscriminately and “wasting “ them mercilessly. That passerby and those in their homes and shops were not spared. That it got to a point where the activists having seen dozens of their comrades already laid dead refused to run and offered to be shot and killed. That they were massacred mercilessly by soldiers and that before God, none of the activists was armed.
That under heavy security and panicky atmosphere, the soldiers and police personnel ensured that all the dead corpses were recovered and taken to Onitsha Barracks. That by evening of 30th of May 2016, at least 90 bodies of murdered Biafran Heroes Day celebrants had been taken to Onitsha Barracks and heaped in batches. That there are two cemeteries inside the Onitsha Army Barracks; originally reserved for fallen soldiers. That the 90 dead activists are most likely buried in one of the two cemeteries; preferably the one close to Yahweh Church inside the Barracks and that the possibility of the dead activists buried outside the Barracks is very slim.
That in same evening, when the massacre ended and JTF agencies returned to their bases, 19 citizens including 12 deadly shot victims and their seven relatives and friends were forcefully taken away from their hospital beds at the Nnewi Teaching Hospital and brought before the Commissioner of Police, CP Hosea Karma. That the CP addressed his security sub commanders, labeling them “arrested hoodlums threatening the security of the State”. That he ordered the 12 deadly shot victims to be returned to the Nnewi Teaching Hospital and ordered the SARS Commander to take away for “confessional interrogation” (torture) the seven arrested relatives and friends of the 12 deadly shot victims.
That the corpse of a dead activist was also brought to the State Command Headquarters at Awka same time and dumped in its premises; to be thrown off later in the night. That on Thursday, 2nd of June 2016, between 10.30am and 11am the soldiers stormed the Nnewi Teaching Hospital again and abducted eight of the deadly shot victims from their hospital beds and took them to unknown destination till date. That on Friday, 3rd of June 2016, five citizens with severe bullet wounds were transferred by soldiers from Onitsha Army Barracks to the State CID and that they were dumped inside its cell without any form of treatment till date.
A Military Source: That the bodies of over 90 murdered Biafran Heroes Day celebrants and other members of the public were given secret mass burial inside the Barracks in one of the two military cemeteries on Wednesday, 1st of June 2016. That it was a noon event under tight security. That the secret mass burial attracted top army and police officers including DCP OPS (J.B. Kokomo) and that Anambra State Government was represented by its Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, who arrived the Barracks at about 11.30am. That a number of graves were dug and the remains of over 90 murdered celebrants dumped and buried in their numbers.
A Military Police Source: That indeed over 90 dead celebrants and activists received a secret mass burial in one of the two military cemeteries located inside Onitsha Barracks, near Yahweh Church, leading to Obosi Town. That the secret mass burial was performed moments after the arrival of the representative of the Government and Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, who is also the State Commissioner for Information. That he also supervised the graves before the commencement of the secret mass burial. That a total of fifteen graves were dug with some shallow and others deep and that some graves contained as much as ten corpses and others as low as five depending on the depth of each grave.
A DSS Source Corroboration: That closed calls made for certainty clearly confirmed the mass burial inside the Onitsha Army Barracks and on the said date, time, space and place.
A Rescued Citizen’s Corroboration: Mr. Henry Ibebuike Enekwe is an electrical engineer and 32 years old. He was declared missing in our Coalition (Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations) public statement of 3rd of June 2016 after his abduction by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment in the morning of 30th of May 2016 on his way to Enugu, from his Eke-Nkpor base. Engineer Henry was rushing to Enugu to seal a house wiring contract with a Lagos based businessman. Happily, Engineer Henry Enekwe regained his freedom in the evening of Saturday, 4th of June 2016, following our advocacy intervention and a distress call by the Ebonyi State Directorate of DSS to its Anambra State counterpart, which led to his rescue from five days captivity and torture in the hands of his soldiers’ captors.
Engineer Henry Enekwe’s younger sister and her husband are serving DSS operatives. He had hours after his release, spoken to Intersociety and confirmed the mass burial inside the Onitsha Barracks of over 90 murdered Biafran Heroes Day celebrants on Wednesday, 1st of June 2016. He further told Intersociety that some soldiers of northern origin guarding their cells, had in the night of same Wednesday, 1st of June 2016, around 8.30pm, violently or harshly communicated to them in their cells: “we don give your brothers mass burial today and if you people mess up, you will join them and nothing will happen”.
Rescued Citizen’s Account: Narrating his ordeal in the hands of his captor-soldiers, Engineer Henry Enekwe told Intersociety that he regretted bringing his young son into this country called “Nigeria” where beasts are perpetually in charge of the affairs of Nigerian people. That the greatest shock of his life was his encounter with soldiers on 30th of May 2016 in front of the street leading to St Edmunds Catholic, Nkpor-Agu. He said before his very eyes, three innocent citizens going home from an early morning church service at St Edmunds Catholic were shot and killed by soldiers.
That the soldiers, having arrested him and pushed him into their military truck, corked their guns and pointed them at the worshippers coming from the Church and violently shouted at them, forcing three of them to run for safety out of fear and panic, only for the soldiers to open fire on them, killing them instantly. That the soldiers were of Hausa-Fulani tribe and that they recovered the corpses and dumped them in their van and zoomed off to the Onitsha Military Barracks, in company of himself and others abducted alive. That he sat beside the dead corpses and the soldiers kept mocking them and their tribe.
That when they got to the Barracks, he saw a heap of dead bodies and those who were deadly wounded were dumped on top of dead ones. That the soldiers moved him, alongside others to open cells from where he saw more dead bodies being brought in and dumped. That later in the evening, the corpses were moved in the direction of a certain nursery and primary school inside the Barracks, from where they were never sighted again till the cell guards violently mentioned to them that they had been given mass burial.
That in the early hours of Friday 3rd of June 2016, around 1.30am, soldiers stormed their cells and took away 27 of his fellow captives and six deadly wounded citizens to unknown destinations. That the abducted citizens were never returned to the Barracks till Saturday evening, 4th of June 2016, when he regained his freedom. That while in the captivity of the soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment, himself and others were tortured every morning and soldiers called it “morning tea”; whereby each of them was laid on a bench chair, flogged with “koboko”, with sachet water poured on the parts of their bodies where flogging or torture was being inflicted. That many innocent citizens were still being held in the Barracks amidst torture as at the time he regained his freedom. That the DSS operatives that rescued him told him that they had been in the Barracks six times with his name and soldiers kept denying the existence of such name among their captives. That torture was a routine and the wounded were left unattended to and that extra judicial killing of some captives including those with terminal gunshot wounds may most likely have taken place.
79 Names Of 130 Deadly Shot Victims:
Onitsha Zone: Obi Nkemakonam, Ubani Nwenneakonam, Nwuzo Friday, Ilo Friday, Olisama Chukwuemeka, Awah Sopuruchi, Okoye Chinedu, Ezeilo Chuka, Onyeduna Ifesinachi, Nnamani Sunday, Chinonso Amadi, Tagbo Chibuzo, Anyanwu Chika, Egbe Johnson, Osukwe Ijeoma, Nkechukwu Ikechukwu, Kenneth Eni, Orjichukwu Chigozie, Solomon Izundu, Ebili Edward, Gabriel Onyedikachi, Ilo Ozoemena, Nwauju Charles, Onuoha Chidozie, Onyemaechi Nwaezeoma, Innocent Obodoekwe, Ifeanyi Azubuike, Adigwe Chukwudi, Ogochukwu Mbam, Obiosa Chukwueme, Ugochukwu Samuel, Onuoha Chigozie, Maduka Egwela, John Onuchukwu, Maduabuchi Onwukanjo, Izuchukwu Nwaogba, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Ibekwe Okechukwu, Felix Odianwu, Okafor Moses Madukasi and Egwu Joseph.
Some of the deadly shot victims who ran out of hospitals to their homes courtesies of their friends and relatives, following incessant invasions of hospitals and their abductions by soldiers are Chidi Nwigwe, Uchenna Odaa, Ezeaka Ejike, Chima Anamuasonye and Nwaowe John. Some who were rescued by their friends and relatives and taken to Abia State for safety and adequate treatments are Ifeanyi C. Azubuike and Ugochukwu Nnamu and some of those rescued and taken to Enugu State are Ifeanyi Ogumma and Arinze Aja. Dozens of others with deadly gunshot wounds who escaped for safety have not been traced till date. Some may have died in the process owing to untreated wounds and other medical challenges.
The names of 29 citizens, out of those that were terminally shot by soldiers and police in Asaba are Ichoku Ndu, Ebere Obidike, Nwabueze Uzonna, Okey Roland, Chukwudi Ifenna, Isaac Uzochukwu, Eberima Aguh, Henry Gideon, Efion Apani, Abuchi Obi, Ozoemena Chukwuma, Lotenna Ifeajuna, Ifebuchi Okenwa, Wisdom Omota, Ejike Abunchukwu, Ozobu Ogbonna, Emeka Madueke, Paschal Gideon, Afam Onyeburu, Izu Onwubiewe, Okey Agubata, Celestine Nnamdi, Obieke Lotenna, Nwabueze Oti, Chijioke Ozoro, Nwadike Chibuzo, Azuka Ifeake, Chioma Nkemjika and Obiora Okonkwo. In all, out of at least 130 that were deadly shot and wounded, 79 are cited.
Also, out of over 120 Biafran Heroes Day celebrants and other members of the public massacred by soldiers and their cohorts on 30th of May 2016, over 90 of their corpses were abducted by soldiers and buried inside the Onitsha Army Barracks military cemetery. As it stands now, the corpses of ten of over 120 murdered activists are presently in the custody of their families and some mortuaries. The ten corpses of over 120 murdered activists under reference are part of those saved from being abducted by soldiers. Out of the ten, six have been identified by name and traced to their families. They include four saved in Asaba: late Citizens Hero Vincent, Okeke Obiora, Apam Oyi and Nwabueze Uzonna) and two saved in Onitsha: late Citizens Ernest Uzor and Chika Uka. The identities of four others are yet to be ascertained and they include two at Crown Hospital in Nkpor, one at St Charles Borrowmeo Hospital in Onitsha and one sighted at the State Police Command Headquarters at Awka in the evening of Monday, 30th of May 2016. Investigations and searches are continuing.
It is recalled that we had earlier condemned the basket-load of lies cooked up by the trio of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and the Government of Anambra State over their vicarious and individual ignoble and abominable roles in the massacre under reference. We also promised to rubbish their lies and falsehoods with undiluted facts and figures so as to de-contaminate and de-pollute the minds of all Nigerians and the international watchers who might have been fed and contaminated with same as well as shaming the serial liars including the Government Of Governor Willie Obiano and Anambra State Police Command which have continued with their gargantuan falsehood and brazen denials. Attachments below contain over 45 photos depicting the State horror and Genocide across the Niger under reference. Each of the photos is titled and pictorially described. They range from military trucks conveying recovered corpses of massacred activists to Onitsha Army Barracks to those of dead and deadly wounded victims, etc.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
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Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
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