End bloodletting in Imo State, CSOs urge Uzodinma


… Seek Buhari’s intervention to end killings

Worried by the rising incidence of extrajudicial killings in Imo State, Civil Society Organizations has called on the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma to as a matter of urgency rein in the “blood thirsty criminals” masquerading as Ebubeagu security outfit and bring them to justice.

The CSOs in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma on behalf of seventeen others accused the security outfit of committing serial acts of extrajudicial killing, rape and other crimes against humanity in Oru-West, Oru-East and other parts of Imo State.

The CSOs condemned in the strongest terms, the savagery and atrocities being committed daily by operatives of Ebubeagu security outfit set up by the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma even as they alleged that the said Ebubeagu operates in cahoots with the Police, State Security Service (SSS) and other security agencies in the state.

“Ebubeagu is reported to have continued with the extrajudicial-style-execution of youths in communities in Oru-West and Oru-East which the outfit has become notorious for since it was set up by Governor Uzodinma some months ago. Distress calls over the excesses of the outfit have been ignored by Governor Uzodinma whose inexplicable silence points to condonement or complicity.

“The news of the latest gratuitous and egregious killings by Ebubeagu which have gone virile reportedly took place in the evening of Sunday 17th of July 2022 when rampaging operatives of the outfit were alleged to have shot and killed scores of unarmed youths of Otulu in Oru-East Local Governments Area who were attending a traditional marriage ceremony in Awọ-Ọmamma.

“It was reported that two siblings, one of whom was identified as Chiboy and twelve (12) other youths were shot in the chest and killed by Ebubeagu.

“In one of the videos circulating on social media, four corpses of young men were seen lying by the roadside at Awọ-Ọmamma in a pool of their blood, allegedly killed by Ebubeagu operatives.

“Corroborating the news in another video, a woman from Otulu was seen in tears lamenting that over fourteen (14) youths from the same community who went for a traditional marriage on Sunday 17th of July, 2022 were allegedly killed by Ebubeagu operatives.

“Youths of Otulu and Awọ-Ọmamma who feel existentially threatened by the unprovoked and unchecked daily killings of their fellow youths by Ebubeagu operatives took to the streets carrying the remains of some of their murdered colleagues in wheel barrow in protest.

“We are stunned by reports that the Imo State commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba said he has not seen any of the videos, an apparent exhibition of nonchalance and insensitivity consistent with the lack of empathy underscored by the silence and inaction of the Imo State Government.

“The Imo State Police Command authorities have also remained silent in the face of these deadly attacks on the youths and other members of the affected communities”, alleged.

The CSOs further recalled that in June 2022, RULAAC had written to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to order investigation into the activities of Ebubeagu operatives and other security agencies in Imo State following reports that several young men were allegedly killed, their body parts harvested and their remains burnt by security personnel comprising of the notorious Ebubeagu, Police, the SSS, the Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

“It was revealed, among other things that young men from age fifteen (15) and above are usually the target of these blood thirsty hounds who arrest many of them and are never seen again or their whereabouts ever known again by their communities. Neither the Imo State Governor whom Ebubeagu reports directly to nor the President who is the country’s Chief Security Officer has deemed it fit to address these acts of terror on communities threatening to liquidate their youth population.

“In June 2022, Ebubeagu Security outfit in search of youths to capture in these communities allegedly invaded a compound in Okporo Community and ended up shooting everybody in sight including the elderly men, leaving several of them in the pool of their blood.

“Ebubeagu operatives are said to periodically carry out joint operations with the police, SSS and civil defense allegedly arresting young men based on unsubstantiated accusations. In some cases, some of the arrested youths are taken to the Tiger Base office of the IRT in Owerri Imo State where they are tortured, extorted or even killed.

“Young women are allegedly violently seized, taken to bush paths or inside their vehicles and gang-raped and asked to thank God that they were not killed but ‘merely rape’.

“We are further disturbed by recent virile but yet to be independently verified reports that some teenage girls who were out in the evening playing amongst themselves within their family compound in the Njaba and Orlu axis were arrested by Ebubeagu operatives and indefinitely detained at the SSS facility in Owerri. One of the teenage girls identified as 15-year-old Oluebube Uzoma and others including Chidera Amaefula, Chidinma Oba, Favour Azubuike, Chiamaka Okoro, Chibueze Ezike, and Mmesoma Ezike were said to have been arrested and detained at the SSS facility in Owerri for more than four (4) months and are allegedly being sexually exploited with Chiamaka Okoro allegedly already pregnant during the period of her unlawful incarceration.

“There is information that many of those recruited into the Ebubeagu in Imo State are alien militant elements who were handed assault rifles without appropriate training and ostensibly sent to go after the ‘unknown gunmen’. The unknown gunmen seem to have since gone underground but Ebubeagu operatives have turned their fangs on armless youths.

“We are deeply concerned about the activities of this killer outfit which have become too egregious and inhuman to condone. Whatever may be the motive for setting up such a deadly outfit cannot be in the interest of public safety and security, especially as Governor Hope Uzodinma who set it up, to all intents and purposes, condones the atrocities they commit against communities. There are also fears that the outfit may eventually transform into a tool for political violence”, the coalition stated.

While calling on Governor Hope Uzodinma to on his own, take steps to rein in these bloodthirsty hounds masquerading as a security outfit, the CSOs insisted that he needed to reassure Imo citizens and residents that he had their best interest at heart contrary to the widespread notion to the contrary.

“He must end the killings and atrocities, order the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators with a view to bringing them to account and guarantee adequate compensations to the victims”, they added.

The groups maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as the ultimate Constitutional authority in control of security in Nigeria should decisively and urgently intervene in aid of communities affected by insecurity.

“We call on President Buhari to call Governor Hope Uzodinma to order and order a stop to these barbaric acts”, they said arguing that the Police Act 2020 prohibited profiling and arrest of persons based only on their looks, hairstyle or bodily mark.

“The Nigerian Constitution also guarantees citizens’ freedom of movement, association and assembly as well as the right to life and human dignity”, the CSOs concluded.

Photo: Senator Hope Uzodinma, the executive Governor of Imo State.

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