2nd November 2020
OYIGBO SHOULD NOT BE TURNED INTO A KILLING FIELD, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CAUTIONS NIGERIA ARMY, RIVERS & FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS.
The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and pro-environment and Human Rights group, worried by the news of disturbances and killings said to be perpetrated by the Nigerian army in Oyigbo, Rivers State in a bid to curtail the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, cautions the Rivers state and federal governments, as well as the military authorities that Oyigbo should not be turned into a killing field and her people used for target practice by the Nigeria Army.
News of decimation and wanton arrests and killings are making rounds all demanding that due attention be paid to the plight of the people who are said to be fleeing their land and yet the state government under His Excellency Yesom Wike has remained silent just like the federal government. Silence of majority is no less crime against the human race. FENRAD strongly condemns any looting and destruction of properties including attack on military formations whether by seccesionist groups like IPOB and the like, hoodlums or criminal elements, but nothing should, FENRAD believes, make the military go against rules of engagement, violate the Nigerian constitution of 1999 as amended; even other international charters and covenants (instruments of international law) to which Nigeria is a signatory.
It is condemnable – and outrightly so – that at a time when the military has yet to prove its own innocence in what became a Black Tuesday for the nation at Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 a similar or even a worse carnage is still been associated with our military. The Nigerian army should desist from any operations within the Nigerian space that reflect overkill. Brute or kinetic force is never a measure of discipline nor acceptable standard for civil engagement. FENRAD condemns the fact that the military lost some personnel and ammunition to hoodlums in that area but wonders still if Nigeria is sliding back into the 1960s decade when the army was used to advance the political goal of a few; even for target practice.
FENRAD calls on Governor Wike to, as the chief security officer of Rivers State, live up to the occasion and return Oyigbo to its hitherto peaceful state. The federal government should be aware that certain misconducts by men and officers who man and officer the Nigerian army could win us a trophy of shame within the international circle and comity of states even as we seek concerted effort of international community to overcome Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges and menace.
The military in any operations targeted at recovering weapons carted away during the #EndSARS protest that later was taken over by hoodlums should not do so at the expense of human lives protection of which is its mandate. Gory details abound about Oyigbo that scares any human deserving a place in that race. FENRAD also reaches out to traditional leaders of Oyigbo and entire Rivers State to ensure that under their traditional custody their land and people never slid into anarchy.
The military should intelligently recover its weapons but must not bring terror and blood to rain in any part of the country. If the military go unprofessional about it then the police with the constitutional duty to oversee internal matters should be deployed. Enough.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD).