The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) wishes to inform all Nigerians and international watchers that we have totally been vindicated concerning our special publication of 6th of June 2016; titled: How Over 90 Biafran Heroes Day Activists Were Massacred By Security Forces & Buried In Military Cemetery Inside Onitsha Army Barracks. Our vindication follows the failure of the trio of the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and the Government of Anambra State, which played leading murderous roles in the genocidal massacre to statistically and correctly deny or contradict findings of ours contained in the special publication. Today marks 96 hours or four days after the release of the special publication, yet the three killer establishment including the Buhari’s administration, have maintained “a conspiracy of silence” or silence of the graveyard, till date. The special publication has commendably received a very wide publicity in leading local and international media, particularly the online and social media.
The findings of ours under reference have not only rattled and unsettled the three killer establishments including the Federal Government of Nigeria, but have also shamed them locally and internationally by exposing and rubbishing their cooked up basket-load of lies. The Government of Anambra State, on its part, has embarked on failed damage control and shedding of crocodile tears. Another aspect of our research findings following our special publication under reference is that the named killer authorities decided to run riot on Nigeria’s traditional media with a basket-load of lies over their genocidal acts in the genocide; the moment they realized that their butchery acts have led to the death of over 120 innocent and unarmed citizens and injuring of dozens of others in less than eight hours. Following this, a basket-load of lies was let loose; stigmatizing and criminalizing the event organizers and their supporters as well as mangling and suppressing casualty figures with reckless abandon. The Government of Anambra State, for instance, on its part, lied unpardonably by claiming that no single activist was killed and that the unarmed and innocent Biafran Heroes Day celebrants were armed with guns with which they opened fire at the security forces and that other arms recovered from them included dynamites, machetes and biafran flags.
The army and the police also corroborated the false claims of the Government of Anambra State, leading to issuance of another violent order by retiring IGP Solomon Arase, ordering for disarming of armed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as well as the Nigerian Army, which claimed it acted within the ambit of the Rules of Engagement, Self Defense and Use of Force. In all these, lies of unpardonable and alarming proportions were cooked up with intents to pollute the public minds and cover-up their genocidal acts. But for our effective application of investigative analytical method and microscopic evidencing, leading to exposition of the genocidal atrocities under reference particularly the high casualty figures and their secret mass burial; the Government of Anambra State, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Government of Nigeria would have succeeded in contaminating the minds of Nigerian public and the international watchers with their basket-load of lies using a gagged section of the Nigerian media.
The most heinous of the genocidal atrocities committed by the three killer establishments was the brazen denial to the effect that no innocent citizen lost his or her life in the genocidal massacre; whereas above 120 deaths were recorded and above 130 deadly injured citizens were affected. The second heinous part of it all was the coordinated unlawful evacuation of dozens of corpses of the murdered activists and their secret mass burial inside Onitsha Military Barracks cemetery. Totality of these is geared towards cover-up or erasing of traces of criminal culpability of the perpetrators.
It is therefore shocking and saddening that the same Governor Willie Obiano that went gaga in feeding the whole world with the above named basket-load of lies and labeling of Biafran Heroes Day celebrants as “miscreants and hoodlums”; leading to their mass murder, has suddenly turned around to shed crocodile tears and pretentiously apologetic. He had during his visit at Nkpor, following the special report of ours under reference, promised to “offset the hospital bills of the wounded”. This is after soldiers and SARS under his security watch, had invaded a number of hospitals including the Nnewi Teaching Hospital and abducted the wounded in their hospital beds; forcing most of the 130 citizens with gunshot wounds in other hospitals in Anambra State as well as Asaba in Delta State to flee their hospital beds and escaped to neighboring States.
It further saddens our heart that the Governor who was laboriously elected by the People of Anambra State in November 2013 to protect them and ensure their welfare in accordance with Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, has turned against his people and even worsened their security and welfare. Rather than rising to the occasion to protect his people against the rampaging dictatorial administration of Gen Muhammadu Buhari and its murderous uniformed men, Governor Willie Obiano has joined forces with sworn enemies of his own people. Today, he is a “king governor” and governor of the elites, while the masses who got him elected are abandoned with their lives, liberties and social values including ethnic identities and rights to bury their murdered loved ones turned to shreds and given away to rampaging ethnic cleansers.
It is on record that out of over 200 innocent and unarmed citizens; mostly in their 20s and 30s, killed in the Southeast and the South-south parts of Nigeria by the Army, the Police and other security forces between 30th of August 2015 and 30th of May 2016; a period of nine months, following nonviolent and peaceful assemblies organized by self determination activists and campaigners; 160 of them were killed in Onitsha under the violent security watch of Governor Willie Obiano. The 160 dead activists include four citizens killed in Awka on 30th of August 2015, over 13 killed in Onitsha on 2nd December 2015, over nine killed in Onitsha on 17th of December 2015 and over 120 massacred in Onitsha and Asaba on 30th of May 2016 as well as 10 others or more found dumped in the mortuary by soldiers and those that died later in hospitals including four that died at the Multicare Hospital at Nkpor. Over 36 of those killed were killed in Aba, Abia State on 18th and 29th of January and 9th of February 2016.
We therefore consider Governor Willie Obiano’s promise to “offset the hospital bills of the wounded” in the genocidal massacre of 30th of May 2016 as a fraud, ill-conceived and grave insult to those himself and others violently departed as well as those who were terminally wounded. This is because the same Governor under whose security watch and authorization soldiers went on rampage, invading hospitals and abducting the wounded in their emergency beds, leading to desertion of all but few whose relations are yet to ascertain their whereabouts or afraid to do same; is the same Governor “pledging to offset their hospital bills”. At Nkpor Crown Hospital where he reportedly visited, all the gunshot victims on admission, except two dead activists yet to be identified by their families, have long been hurriedly discharged by their families. Mere pledge to offset the hospital bills of the wounded is nothing but “medicine after death” and desperate moves to panel-beat a second term gubernatorial ambition; which is why we regarded the Governor’s grossly belated assuaging moves as “failed damage control and shedding of crocodile tears”.
Now that our special publication and its thoroughly investigated contents have forced the Government of Anambra State through Governor Willie Obiano to probate and reprobate, there are two frontal ways to remedy the genocidal massacre under reference; local and international ways. Locally, on account of our expository publication, which has forced the killer establishments to the point of dumbness and apologies of the graveyard; the Government of Anambra State must formally and boldly come out publicly to admit and explain fully its roles in the genocidal massacre. These include how much it spent in funding the genocidal operation through its JTF, the total number of innocent and unarmed citizens that were killed, why they were killed, which provisions of the 1999 Constitution and regional and international conventions empower their killers to kill them, how and why their remains were unlawfully gathered from genocidal scenes by the State Government funded JTF and under what condition they were kept before their secret mass burial in Onitsha Army Cemetery, and why and how they were given secret mass burial inside the Onitsha Army Barracks in the noon of Wednesday, 1st of June 2016.
The Government of Anambra State must also tell the whole world the constitutional basis or otherwise upon which its JTF operatives including soldiers and SARS invaded hospitals where the wounded are receiving emergency medical attentions and got them abducted and taken to undisclosed locations. Nigerians and international watchers must be informed too, of the number of them that were shot dead or forced to die on the process and where they were buried. There are reports of abduction by soldiers and SARS operatives of innocent and unarmed citizens in their homes in late night raids and invasions with some, if not many not seen till date. The general public must be told where they were buried? Was it only automatic weapons with live bullets that were deadly used by soldiers, SARS operatives and police personnel in the genocidal massacre or were raw acid substances and machetes used against innocent and unarmed Biafran Heroes Day celebrants by soldiers, SARS and other security forces?
The Government of Anambra State must also recant all the lies it told against the organizers and supporters of the Biafran Heroes Day Anniversary to the effect that “they were armed with guns, shot at security forces, killed two police officers, found armed with dynamites and machetes and that nobody died on the side of the celebrants”. Totality of these constitutes “true gubernatorial repentance, confession and apology”. Shedding of crocodile tears is never good enough and roundly rejected!
Further, all the over 90 corpses of murdered Biafran Heroes Day celebrants secretly buried in a military cemetery inside Onitsha Army Barracks in the noon of Wednesday, 1st of June 2016, must be publicly exhumed by the Government of Anambra State, demographically and pathologically identified and medically investigated. This should be followed up by placement of Government radio and television announcements on Government owned stations like ABS TV & Radio, local, national and international NTA as well as privately owned TVs and Radios including Channels TV, AIT, Silver Bird, Galaxy and Minaj TVs, as well as Blaze, Purity and Odenigbo Radios, etc. Such adverts should also be placed on leading newspapers and leading online media as well as Government written announcements to be announced in churches, markets and town unions.
The Government announcement will contain a call to members of the public and interest groups to send the names and pictures and bio-data of their missing dead relations, recovered dead bodies as well as those shot and wounded by soldiers and other security forces in the genocidal massacre that took place in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba between the early morning and late night of 30th of May 2016. The Government of Anambra State must also designate easily accessible and secured points of contact for collection and verification of such names and pictures as well as ensuring hurdle and threats-free atmosphere for their family members and friends so as to ensure maximum cooperation and responses.
The remains of those murdered by the Government of Anambra State and its JTF must be released to their families and in the case of those beyond scientific or pathological identifications; their families must be allowed to go home with sands or earth mud extracted from the secret mass burial sites inside Onitsha Army Barracks. Each of the families of the 120 murdered activists must be issued with a living cheque of N5million; while each of the families of the 130 wounded citizens must receive N2million cheque. After all these, the Government of Anambra State through Governor Willie Obiano must tender unreserved written apology to the Igbo race, the People of Niger Delta, members of the deceased and the wounded families, the IPOB, MASSOB, the BIM, etc and all Nigerians and international watchers. The written apology must be placed on leading government and private media outfits: audio, audio visual, paper and online media.
It is our further recommendation to Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Anambra State to put plans in place to relocate the Onitsha Army Barracks and conversion of the land or space to “Freedom Square” for democratic free speeches and peaceful assemblies to be dedicated to all those innocent and unarmed citizens murdered since 30th of August 2015 as well as to the peoples of Southeast and South-south Nigeria.
As for those who played leading murderous roles in the genocidal massacre particularly Col Issah M. Abdullahi (Commander, Onitsha Military Cantonment), Major C.O. Ibrahim (operational commander of the genocidal massacre), CP Hosea Karma (CP, Anambra State Command), DCP Makama (2i/c, Anambra State Police Command), DCP J.M. Kokomo (DC, OPS, Anambra State Police Command) and the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, etc, they should be administratively dismissed from their duties and charged to court for murder, conspiracy for murder, attempted murder and related others.
If the Federal Government continues to refuse to make the named heads of security forces to account for their heinous crimes as it did in the case of other perpetrators, we shall be left with no other choice than to conclude that “the Federal Government has again, failed woefully under the international law’s “Principle of Complimentarity”; by being unwilling and unable to bring its perpetrators to justice; thereby providing sufficient grounds for international criminal justice including ICC interventions or sufficient resort to other regional and international remedies under the ECOWAS, AU or UN Systems. The manifest unwillingness and inability of the Federal Government of Nigeria under reference has already made the likes of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (COAS), Mr. Solomon Arase (Retiring IGP), CP Hosea Habila (CP, Abia State), Lt Col Sidi Kazim Umar Sidi (Commander, 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Abia State) and ACP Peter Nwagbara (Aba Area Commander) the ICC bound and international criminal justice fugitives; with the test case of them all being retiring IGP Solomon Arase, who leaves the NPF on 21st of June 2016. We deeply pity him and his post retirement life. This is because there is no longer impunity and immunity for regime atrocities and no hiding place for their perpetrators.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
Barr Chinwe Umeche, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Mobile Line: +2347013238673