A chief magistrate Court on Thursday in Abuja ordered the release of 29 out of 30 detainees abducted from Oyigbo in Rivers State and detained by the Nigerian Army in Abuja.
The 30th person was, however, not released on religious grounds.
Hundreds of Oyigbo residents were arrested and airlifted to Abuja after the army launched a crackdown on suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The bail followed an alarm raised by a human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) on Wednesday alleging that the Nigerian Army had abducted over 400 Oyigbo residents and holding them in secret camps.
In the report, the human rights group said 150 of the 400 abducted Oyigbo residents were being held incommunicado at the Sani Abacha Barracks, among other military dungeons in Abuja.
In the report titled: How 400 Obigbo Residents Or More Were Abducted By Soldiers & Transported To Secret Military Dungeons In The North, 52 Rescued In Niger State, 3 Tortured To Death & 150 Languishing In Abacha Barracks (Abuja),Etc”, the group said that Decree 2 Is Back.
The report reads in part “The International Freedom of Exchange had referred to Nigeria’s Military Decree 2 of 1984 “as the Nigerian State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No. 2 of 1984, which allows for indefinite and incommunicado detention of Nigerian citizens without trial”. From every indication, this infamous and anti democratic military law is back and put in clandestine practice in Nigeria under the present central Government and this time around is being used by the country’s heavily Muslim-dominated and controlled Nigerian Army to target on religious and tribal grounds citizens of old Eastern and Mid Western Nigeria particularly the Igbo citizens of Judeo-Christian faith.
“The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) is shocked to note that the number of Obigbo residents, all Christians and mostly Igbo citizens, abducted and disappeared by the Nigerian Army, has risen to 400 or more; out of which, 150 have been discovered to be held indefinitely and incommunicado without Court trial in different secret Army and Spy Police dungeons located in the Federal Capital Territory or Abuja.
“In our latest finding, 52 defenceless Obigbo residents, all Judeo-Christian Igbos were recently rescued and their release secured through three different Courts and four processes in Niger State. The 52 rescued abductees exclude three that died from torture in soldiers’ captivity. While one died on the road during their secret and night long transportation from Obigbo-to-Obinze (Army Barracks)-Abuja, two others died in Army secret detention custodies in Niger State. It was further discovered that most of the abductees were transported by road while others including elderly ones among them were airlifted through the local wing of the Port Harcourt Int’l Airport in Rivers State and the Sam Mbakwe Airport in Imo State.
“Corroboratively, Intersociety had back in September 2020, been told or received some independent reports that ‘dozens of citizens of Igbo Christian extraction were being held secretly and outside the law in places like Gusau Prisons located in Zamfara State. They are defenceless and unarmed citizens vindictively arrested across various states in old Eastern and Mid Western Nigeria, labeled “IPOB terrorists” and secretly transferred to far away Zamfara State, etc where they are secretly being held without trial.
“One major attribute of the dreaded Decree 2 now being used clandestinely by the Lt Gen Tukai Buratai-led Nigerian Army is the extrajudicial transfer and incarceration of citizens abducted by Army at prison facilities without recourse to court orders or remands. In other words, citizens abducted by soldiers are now sent directly to prisons from military custodies on orders of the Army High Commands including the COAS. This is one of the dreaded features of the obnoxious Decree 2 now in clandestine practice in the country.
Some Magistrates Now Sign Detention Orders For Army Outside Courtroom
The military authorities, too, now get some magistrates to sign detention orders for them outside the courtroom and due processes. The above was the case in the case of the 52 rescued Obigbo residents and three others that died in Army captivity in Niger State as well as 150 others presently languishing without trial in Army and Police spy dungeons in Abuja. It is also forbidden by the country’s criminal justice system for citizens to be arrested and detained and tried outside the areas where they are alleged to have committed the offences for which they were arrested. Intersociety, it is recalled, had in its last statement, disclosed that “between 200 and 300 Obigbo residents were abducted by soldiers and detained in secret military detention facilities located within and outside Rivers State”. New findings, however, now indicate that 400 of them or more were abducted.
Obigbo Army/Wike Massacre: The Background
The Army massacre in Obigbo, Rivers State, a densely Igbo-populated area, occurred following killings and property destructions associated with October 2020 country-wide protests by aggrieved citizens against the atrocious conducts of the dreaded Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, now renamed “SWAT”. In the killings and property destructions that followed, over 350 citizens including civilians, soldiers and police personnel were killed and properties worth billions of naira burnt or destroyed. Lagos State where over 70 persons were killed and properties worth billions lost, was the hardest hit.
The ‘End-SARS’ protests had taken a violent dimension on 20th October, following clandestine recruitment and sponsorship of Islamic hoodlums by Government of Nigeria to counter the protests, attack the protesters (leading to killing of scores of peaceful protesters and burning or destruction of properties belonging to them and neutral others) and make the protests look like “all Southern Christian affair”. This remotely introduced reprisal violence into the protests which was further aggravated by Army killings at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos State in the late evening of 20th October 2020.
In Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike took the sad incident personal and decided to use same for political reasons. He not only incited security agencies including Police and Army against Igbo residents in Obigbo and environs but also politicised it and labeled the unfortunate killing of some soldiers and police personnel in Obigbo as ‘terrorist acts perpetrated by IPOB’; a leading self-determination group agitating for regional self-governance for the people of old Eastern and Mid Western Nigeria. IPOB, a non-violent movement, was vindictively proscribed in September 2017 by the Northern Muslim-led Government of Nigeria. This was chiefly to heighten its violent crackdown on the group and cover traces of its involvement in the killing of over 180 Igbo citizens and over 130 maimed in same Sept 2017 in Abia State.
Gov Nyesom Wike’s politicisation of the EndSARS violent protests in Obigbo and other parts of the state came against the background of the fact that soldiers and police personnel and over 300 civilians were killed across the country during the period, particularly in Lagos, Abia, Enugu and Northern Nigeria. In other words, the killing of soldiers and police personnel during the period though despicable and condemnable, was not restricted to Obigbo but also the case across the country. In furtherance of the politicisation of the sad incident, the Rivers Gov on 21st Oct 2020 declared a curfew in Obigbo and environs and invited Nigerian Army to ‘flush out IPOB terrorists in the area who killed six soldiers and four police personnel and burnt police stations’. In response, the Northern Muslim held Army let loose and went on unspeakable war-grade invasion and massacre mission, killing almost 100, injuring 110, abducting 400 or more, disappearing scores without traces till date, torturing hundreds and burning down houses and destroying properties.
Obigbo Army Abductions: The Summary
By the accounts given by Barr Richard Ebuka Okoroafor, an international human rights lawyer and Nigeria-UK citizen and some of the survivors; the 400 abductees or more including the rescued 52 and 150 presently languishing in various Army detention facilities in Abuja, were abducted between late October and early November 2020 in different parts of Obigbo in Rivers State. Some were abducted in the morning and evening time while leaving for or returning from work. There are those abducted on their way to watch football matches or play same, or on their way to attend functions such as weddings, or on their way to meet their contractual obligations or buy food items, or while hawking such as selling sachet water or biscuits. Others were abducted in their sleep in the hours of the blue law or at relaxation joints, etc.
As exclusively reported by Sahara Reporters, some were moved at late hours of the night by air to their present dungeons in the North while the rest were transported by land also at night. Before being bundled to the North, most of them were assembled and detained at Elele Army Battalion in Rivers State, 144 Battalion at Ukwa in Abia State and 34 Brigade, Obinze in Owerri, Imo State from where they were held for days amidst torture before being moved secretly to their present dungeons in the North.
All the abductees were accused and are still being accused of being “terrorists” and were tortured severely in custody to admit being so, leading to death of three in custody and many others being traumatised. At arrival in Niger State, the 54 abductees including the two that later died were spread and held secretly in clusters and detained in over four secret Army detention facilities in the State including Kontagora, Bida, Zungeru and Jebba. Suspicion was also rife that but for the exclusive report run by Sahara Reporters on 24th November 2020 and timely efforts of Barr Richard Ebuka Okoroafor and leaders of IPOB as well as some human rights bodies contacted, the abductees would have met their waterloo in captivity.
As disclosed by court documents seen and verified by Intersociety, the first bail was granted by a Magistrate Court sitting in Minna, presided over by a Grade 11 Magistrate to first four abducted Igbo citizens (Jude Nwachukwu, Chibuzor Ebere, Obi Uche and Michael Uzoma), followed by another bail granted to second batch granted on 3rd Dec 2020 by Hon Justice Hajiya Maryam Mahmoud of the Niger State High Court involving 26 abductees and among them are: Obinna Nwoke, Emeka Ibeana, Uchenna Ibeana, Nnowi Ifeanyi, Mbanefo Simeon (57 years old), Aloysius Mgbedike, Cletus Nnamdi, Onyema Fortune, Benjamin Andrew, Ebuka Ayota, Robbison Igwe, Igweze Ndubike, Ifeanyi Uwakwe, Emmy Simon, Malachy Umeh, Opara Uchenna, Opara Isaac, Richard Igwe, Obiekwe Uzoma, Joseph Ibe, Paul Ashiegbu and Amechi Ugo.
The third bail involved twelve abducted citizens (Gilbert Ibe, Ibe Emmanuel, Sunday, Paul (Okada Boy), Nwachineke Moses, Chukwu Nwodo, Power Peter, Ifeanyi Alozie, Okeke Bill, Mazi Ibeneme, Okpara Chigozie, Obnna and Chika) and was granted by Hon Justice Aminu Bappa Aliyu of the Federal High Court, Minna, Niger State on 10th December 2020. The fourth bail was granted by the same Federal High Court sitting in Minna on same 10th Dec 2020 by the same Judge. The bail was granted to ten abducted citizens (Chibuchi Adam, Aloysius Obinna, Oluchukwu Emma, Andrew Ichim, Ogochukwu Abel, Tobechukwu, Wisdom Okpara, Bright, Cornelius, Igwe Obinna, Monday Emeka, Paschal and Mr. Oyim). All the 52 abductees granted bail were accused by their captors of “involvement in terrorism, arson, destruction of properties and breach of public peace”. Their bails were granted in accordance with Section 169 of the Administration of Criminal Law of Niger State and Sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
Names Of Three Dead Abductees In The Army Captivity: Okechukwu Anyanwu (in his 30s), Kingsley Iwuagwu (in his 30s) and Chijioke (in his 20s)
Six Survivors Interviewed In Owerri
The following survivors, interviewed by Intersociety in Owerri on Friday, 18th Dec 2020 have these to say:
(1) Ifeanyi Emmanuel, 28 years old. He is a building designer/bricks layer and hails from Osisioma LGA in Abia State. He was abducted by soldiers at Obigbo West close to Obigbo Market on 8th Nov and labeled a “terrorist”. He was on his way to honor his contractual obligation valued at N1.6m.
(2) Miracle Movement (not his real name). He is 20 years old and hails from Owerri North LGA, Imo State. He works as salesman at Ekeson Increase Materials Investment, Obigbo and was abducted by soldiers on 8th Nov 2020 at East Market, Obigbo.
(3) Lord Billabond (not his real name). He is 25 years old, from Ahiazu-Mbaise LGA, Imo State. He is a bricks layer/builder and was abducted by soldiers on 8th Nov along Afam Road Junction, near Obigbo Market.
(4) Emmanuel Njoku, 18 years old JAMBITE and sachet water seller/hawker. He is from Aboh-Mbaise LGA in Imo State and was abducted by soldiers on 8th November 2020 at Obigbo Market.
(5)Anuisem Emeka, 27 years old. He is from Ahiazu-Mbaise LGA, Imo State. He is a bricks layer and was abducted by soldiers on 8th Nov 2020 along Imo Street, Obigbo (boundary between Obigbo and Abia State).
(6) George Ekechukwu, 19 years old and a hair-cut apprentice. He is from Aboh-Mbaise LGA, Imo State and was abducted by soldiers on 8th Nov 2020 in Obigbo.
Names Of 111 Of The 150 Abducted Obigbo Residents
The names below, verified by Intersociety, are among the 150 Obigbo residents, abducted by soldiers since late Oct and early Nov 2020. It has been independently confirmed that most of them are presently held in the Nigerian Army’s Abacha Barracks. Some are said to be held at Spy Police or SSS facilities in Abuja. Undisclosed large numbers, likely in their hundreds, are also strongly believed to be held in secret military locations in other parts of Northern Nigeria and some are reportedly camouflaged as ‘white clothed new intakes’ in some military training centers in the North including the Federal Capital Territory.
Among them are at least 10 women and husbands and wives including those with kids. The husbands and wives among the abductees were abducted together while going about their lawful businesses and other legitimate social activities and have been held incommunicado for two months. Their names are: Ogoke Iheme, Ikenna Opara, Ambrose Ume, Mike Uzodinma, Emma Felix, Ositadinna Aboy, Ugbouku Asisi, Wisdom Chibuike, Wisdom Emeka, Austin Mba, Ejike Somto, Chukwu Emmanuel, Dike Mgbonu, Okeosisi Phillip, Oliver Badmus, Okechukwu Ekechukwu, Pius Vincent, Boniface Okafor, Mbadiwe Godwin, Sima Man, Joseph Nwaaba, Mr. P, Omenne Happy, Eze Imo, Gozie Oliver, Nwamadi Monday, Izunne Gilbert, Nwabueze Chineyeze, Favour Uchenna, Ego Samuel, Ibenwolu Faith, Abel Daniel, Young Winner, Pepper White, Freedom Kekeboy, Obinna Ekechukwu, Adonai Uwakwe, Celestine Uwakwe, Arinze Water, One Man, Onyenma Amaechi, Chukwunonso Andrew, Chikwado Hossana, Ndubuisi Officer, Samuel Jaja, Okoli Kanayo, Kosisochukwu Ojiako, Miracle Ojiako, Uzoma Ojiako, Titus Emeka, .Goodness Nwagbaraukwu, Victor Ajogwu, Mathias Onidoma, Okechukwu Raphael, Raphael Obinna Asadu, Osmond Osita Mamah, Kevin Ubaka Ugwu, Chukwudubem Ezeh, Ozioma Kosalu Udeh, Simon Ngwu Ezeh, Onyebuchi Emeje, Mmadukwe Helen Nwanyi, Patrick Anayochukwu, Ezeugwu Uchenna, Okwor Timothy Chima, Julia C. Chukwudi-Okoro, Ogbo Godwin Omale, Ernest Ugochukwu, Linus Sunday Okoro and Sabastine Asogwa.
The rest are: Livinus Onyebuchi Ojobor, Innocent Ugwueke, Simon Akunna Amadi, Elizabeth Nnaji, Maduabuchi Josiah Eze, Ebere, Promise Okpe, Omeje, Christopher Peter, Promise Ijeoma Eze, Appolonia U. Agbo, Ugwu Anthony Okechi, Cosmas Ugwu, Benedict Ezegwu, Nelson Attamah, Michael Ugwuanyi, Godwin Ezeugwu Attamah, Emmanuel Attamah, Obinna Orji Godwin, Chukwuemeka Omeh, Linus Ukoro Eze Martin, Oluchukwu Ugwoke, Eze George Okwudili, Geoffrey Ugwuoke, Nwodo Emmanuel, Ogbonnaya, Mamah Remigus, Odinaka, Ben Chukwuemeka, Oloko, Nnama Celestine, Chinwe, Desmond Onyebuchi Ezeme, Charles Ugwu, Chinwe C. Nestor-Ezeme, Ezeme Nestor-Ezeme Chika, Nkem Faithful Makata, Eze Ikechukwu, Gerald Ugochukwu Abonyi, Odo Kyrian Obiora, Ezeugwu Paul Ikechukwu, Odo Michael Ifeanyi and Sunday Aneke. Most of these defenseless Igbo citizens are also found to have their States of origin drawn majorly from Abia, Imo and Enugu States.
COAS Buratai & Nigerian Government Are Breeding Another Intractable Insurgency
It is on record that Intersociety has consistently warned the present central Government of Nigeria since 2015 that it is breeding more insurgencies by its violent crackdowns and unleashing of state violence and weaponry against Igbo population; a nation-state with links to over 80 countries of the world including super powers and western democracies. The excessive use of state violence against Igbos in particular and others in general is capable of turning the country into situation that can be worst than Somalia and Rwanda; with calamitous humanitarian consequences.
Nigerian Army Must Release The Remaining 348 Abductees & Account For Three Dead Ones
The Nigerian Army and the Government of Nigeria must, as a matter of extreme urgency, release the remaining 348 Obigbo abductees or more including 150 presently being held incommunicado since two months in Abuja and other secret military and spy police detention facilities in other parts of the North. The Army must also account for the death of three abductees (late Citizens Kingsley Iwuagwu, Okechukwu Anyanwu and Chijioke). The UN, EU, US, UK, Canada and others are hereby called upon to prevail on the Nigerian authorities to retrace its steps before it plunges the country into crises of unquenchable proportion. The attentions of the ICC and internationally respected rights bodies and personalities are also drawn.
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Chinwe Umeche, Head of Democracy & Good Governance; Obianuju Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law; Ndidiamaka Bernard, Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights and Comrade Samuel Kamanyoku, Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation