From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the killing of seven Imo citizens, reportedly gunned down by Ebubeagu, the state government’s security outfit, while returning from a wedding event.
The civil society group also carpeted governor Hope Uzodinma for dismissing as ‘bandits’ the victims of the killings.
In a statement on Tuesday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group lamented that the National Human Rights Commission has been so stifled, weakened and operationally destroyed and heavily compromised that it has not initiated investigations into the serial killings of Igbo youths by operatives of armed security forces and the Imo State owned Ebubeagu security network.
HURIWA called on the National Assembly to investigate this particular incident of alleged mass killing of wedding guests in Imo State and identify the killers so the office of the Inspector General of Police and the Federal Attorney General can charge them for murder because it is now clear that Imo State government has taken sides with the killers of Imo citizens.
“Assuming without conceding that those killed were not wedding guests as claimed by Hope Uzodinma why should Ebubeagu fire their bullets to kill persons riding on motorcycles? What is lawful would have been for the Imo State government to investigate the killing but sadly the governor even took sides before ascertaining what really happened. This is so cruel, inhumane, wicked, irrational and insensitive that the governor can dismiss the alleged mass shooting of Imo citizens on the excuse that they were ‘bandits’ even before any sort of forensic probe is instituted,” the statement read.
HURIWA quoting several media channels stated that there was considerable trepidation, and unprecedented anger in Imo State on Monday after news filtered in that gunmen suspected to be operatives of Ebubeagu Security outfit allegedly killed 7 wedding guests in Awomama, Oru West Local Government Area of the state.
HURIWA gathered that the incident happened on Sunday while the victims were returning to their village in Otulu in Oru East LGA before the gunmen opened fire on them just as the President General of Otulu community, Nnamdi Agbor, told newsmen that seven persons died on the spot while others were missing. The community leader confirmed that the victims were on their way home when the gunmen opened fire on them.
HURIWA said the Community leader said thus: “As they were going home Ebubeagu operatives saw them in motorcycles and opened fire on them. As I speak to you, we have recovered seven dead bodies who are our people.“The monarch said that five are missing, while two are critically injured.”
He said that the Commissioner of Police and the commander of the 34 artillery Brigade Command Obinze have visited the area. The Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Mike Abattam, confirmed the incident.
HURIWA expressed shock and consternation that rather than order a transparent and independent judicial investigation of the alleged mass killings, the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma said that the government will not be deterred by propaganda and blackmail in her quest to protect the lives and property of Imo citizens even as Uzodinma spoke on Monday after the Imo State Security Council meeting with regard to the alleged incident that took place at Awomama on Monday that led to the death of some bandits. Mr Uzodinma said that the government had been briefed on the incident by the Director of State Services in an interim report made available to members of the Security Council. Uzodinma added that the DSS Director confirmed that his men carried out an operation in a Camp at Awomma with the assistance of their informant and not at a wedding place as claimed by the youths and that it was in the process that some bandits were neutralised.
HURIWA condemned the governor for his insensitivity and reckless tendencies to have dismissed the alleged incident just by hearing from one side instead of ordering an independent investigation just as the Rights group said it is most likely that the governor may be dragged to the International Criminal court in The Hague for prosecution for crimes against humanity unless he identifies the killers of Igbo youths including all the security operatives inducted in a well-compiled report by Amnesty International the London based International Non-Governmental Organisation.