By Nwabueze Okonkwo
The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety and the South East Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations, SBCHROs have alerted the Minister of Interior, Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazzau (Retd.) and Chief of Defence Staff, Major Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin over what they described as “ceaseless killings of unarmed citizens in Nigeria, by security agents.
In the letter to the Minister and Defence Chief, entitled: “Pictures & Video Clips Of How Nigerian Military Massacred 22 Unarmed IPOB Members & Dumped 13 Of Them In Aba Borrow Pit: Why Security Chiefs Must Desist From Provoking More Insurgencies Capable Of Plunging Nigeria Into Syrian Style Violence”, the coalition said they had just visited the horrorful Borrow Pit where they saw the corpses of the massacred IPOB members in Aba, Abia state on February 9, 2016.
In what they identified as facts-laden letter copied to National Security Adviser, NSA, Retired Gen Babagana Mungono; Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed; Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase; Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; United Nations Chief Repertoire on Extra Judicial Killings, Prof Christof Heyns; European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Ms Federica Morgherini; Head/African Research Group & Deputy Head/Research Analyst,
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Dr. Clare Thomas; Head, Political Section of the US Embassy in Nigeria; and Head, Political Section of the UK High Commission in Nigeria, the coalition also alleged that the soldiers of the 144 Battalion in Ukwa West LGA of Abia State, joined by personnel of the Abia State Police Command and the Finance & Logistics Command of the Nigerian Navy in Owerre-Nta in Abia State had on of February 9, 2016 stormed the premises of the National High School in Aba and opened fire at members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB who gathered in their hundreds for the purpose of holding prayer/meeting.”
The gruesome murder
SBCHROs further alleged in the letter that the security forces shot and killed 22 IPOB members and critically injured over 30, adding that the IPOB members had gathered in the school on account of suggestion made to them by the same Abia State Police Command and other security heads during their previous meetings to “restrict their processions, rallies or protests to public places other than streets and roads so as not to attract the attention and violent reactions of the Federal Government”.
In the letter jointly signed on their behalf by heads of the various human rights groups, the coalition identified the 22 murdered citizens or IPOB members in the said Aba Prayer/Meeting of February 9, 2016, among whom were Uche Friday (30yrs), from Asa in Abia State; Emeka Ekpemandu (35yrs), from Owerre Nkwoji in Imo State; Chiavoghi Chibuikem (Obingwa in Abia State); Nzubechi Onwumere (Orlu in Imo State); Peter Chinemerem Ukasoanya (27yrs), from Isialangwa North in Abia State, Chigozie Cyril Nwoye (23yrs), from Umuna in Ezeagu, Enugu State.
Others, they further identified were Chukwudi Onyekwere (26yrs), from Aboh Mbaise in Imo State; and Chibuzor Maduagwu (28yrs), from Amauzari in Mbano, Imo State, adding that the remaining eight dead bodies of murdered IPOB members and five critically injured others at the point of death were taken away by soldiers of 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army who were commanded by a colonel.
The coalition recalled that Abia State Police Command had earlier admitted publicly of shooting and killing two IPOB members (“for disturbing students of the National High School in Aba”), adding that the Command is presently and officially in possession of the two dead IPOB members it shot and killed.
In the letter, the coalition alleged that the Army and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Abia State Command, headed by CP Habila Hosea; aided by Aba Area Commander, ACP Peter Nwagbara and joined by personnel of the Nigerian Navy Command (Finance & Logistics Command), Owerre-Nta in Abia State had on the feteful day, shot and killed 22 unarmed, innocent and non violent members of the IPOB at the National High School along Port Harcourt Road in Aba, Abia State, adding that the security forces had stormed the School on the said date in over ten Hilux vans at about 12: noon.
“Over 30 other members of the IPOB were also shot and critically injured at the scene. Out of the 22 murdered citizens, eight were identified after the shooting and killing spree by other members of the IPOB and sympathizers; some of them died on their way to hospital following excess bleeding and excruciating pains. Two of the 22 murdered IPOB members were taken away by the Abia State Police Command and the remaining eight; alongside five critically injured others were packed in two military trucks and taken away by soldiers”.
The IPOB members numbering hundreds had converged peacefully and nonviolently on the National High School premises for their prayers and meeting. About 30 minutes into their prayer procession in the School’s premises, soldiers of the 144 Battalion, numbering over 15, joined by Police and Navy personnel surrounded and barricaded the IPOB members and cordoned off the area. Minutes after, the soldiers opened fire at the IPOB members while Police and Navy personnel joined them by shooting harmful chemical substances at them”.
Coordinators of the IPOB were before the shooting, fished out and taken away; likewise some married women. Among those earlier arrested and taken away were Abia State IPOB Coordinator, Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Imo State Coordinator, Amos Ezekiel, Abia State Welfare Officer of IPOB, Okechukwu Nnebedum Nkume, Abia State Zonal Coordinator, Donatus Okeke and one of the principal officers of the group in Rivers State, Joseph Okolie.”
How corpses were discovered in borrow pit
“On Saturday, February 13, 2016, some scavengers reported to one of the Aba units coordinators of IPOB that they saw some dead bodies in a borrow pit located along Aba Port Harcourt Road. The Borrow Pit was recently converted to a refuse dump by the Government of Abia State. On receiving the report on Saturday morning, the IPOB members moved to the area where they saw 13 dead bodies battered and shrank with decimating chemical substances. The 13 murdered citizens must have included those taken away alive by soldiers who were battered with gunshots. They were laid face down with their eyes tied and covered.
“Eight of them were dumped together, while another three were dumped separately; likewise the remaining two. Shockingly, eight of the gruesomely murdered corpses have their hands tied individually behind their backs with Biafran flags. The “Biafran flags” used in tying them were carefully cut into lengths and ropes made out of them and were used in tying them separately. The flags were parts of items and personal belongings seized and taken away by soldiers at the scene of the bloody shooting on 9th of February 2016 at the National High School in Aba.”
All the 13 murdered and dumped IPOB members have their hands tied behind their backs and their bodies lacerated with gunshot holes. The chemical substances poured on them shrank and made them look old and taller than their normal heights; all for the purposes of erasing traces and defying easy facial and bodily identifications. Some pathologists and cottage medical experts contacted by Intersociety disclosed that the chemical substances used by killer soldiers of 144 Battalion must have contained a mixture of raw acid and embalmment chemical substances for the purpose of making the corpses shrink, old and odorless.”