BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
Following the incessant killings going on in Orlu, Imo West Senatorial zone of Imo State, South East Nigeria and the attendant negligence of both the federal and state governments, Civil Rights Advocacy Group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has called on the human rights community in the region and Imo people in particular to send petition against the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, the military and security chiefs in Abuja to the International Criminal Court in The Hagues, Netherlands.
HURIWA indicated in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko that it would ensure that they face justice individually for what it described as “these repugnant crimes of genocide.”
HURIWA has described as “spectacularly horrendous and unpardonable crimes against humanity the burning down of the Eke Ututu market and the bombing of Orsuihiteukwa Community in Orsu local government area of Imo State by the Nigerian Army.”
The group said it was unfortunate that such alleged state-sponsored crimes are happening under the watchful eyes of elected representatives of the people even as the rights group said those involved in this reprehensible genocide will face international justice mechanisms soon.
Besides, HURIWA said it is a travesty of international justice and a mockery of the United Nations system that at a time when massive human rights violations and the use of extrajudicial killings are occurring in Orlu Zone of Imo state, President Muhammadu Buhari is sharing a podium with the rest of humanity at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States.
HURIWA stated that the alleged “invading a community market and setting the entire place ablaze as recently done by operatives of the Nigerian Security forces in Orsuihiteukwa Community and the alleged mass execution of some citizens is nothing short of a full-blown genocide.
“It is a shame of unfathomable dimension on the United Nations that citizens in a part of Nigeria are being executed through extra-legal methodology by the armed forces and the same United Nations that introduced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 has offered a global speaking opportunity to the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces that are committing despicable crimes against humanity.
“We call on the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guiterres to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately stop the armed security agents in Orlu, Imo State from unleashing venomous crimes against humanity such as the burning down of houses of villagers and their markets and firing live ammunition on civilian residents thereby killing innocent citizens.”
HURIWA further argued that such a crude mechanism of allegedly setting fire on markets as was done in a part of Orlu senatorial zone of Imo State was absolutely offensive to the rules of engagement of the armed security forces and amounts to a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights enshrined in chapter two of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
Bishop of Orlu Catholic Diocese, Augustine Ukuoma, had issued a statement titled; “stop further killing of innocent people and destruction of livelihoods.”
The Catholic Bishop warned that atrocities committed by Nigerian security agencies against the Igbo people in Imo communities were vicious and a calculated attempt to destroy the people and subjugate them to servitude.
The cleric stated, “On Saturday, September 17, 2022, armed men alleged to be government security agencies invaded Orsuihiteukwa community in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State.
“This exercise resulted in the death of some people and the burning down of Eke Ututu market which is the economic mainstay of the people of Orsu Local Government Area and other surrounding communities.
“I have severally in the past condemned the wasting of human life either by state or non-state actors. I still maintain the view that human life is sacred and should be respected (Exodus 20:13.) Violence begets violence and the circle continues. Genuine dialogue remains the answer. My sincere condolences go to all families who lost loved ones during this painful incident. May the souls of these brethren rest in peace.
“The burning down of Eke Ututu market has added another sad dimension to our existing bad situation. The inhabitants of this area are petty traders and subsistence farmers who live basically from hand to mouth. They go to the market to sell their produce and buy food for the day to feed their families.
“With this market destroyed and their means of livelihood dislodged, I am struggling to answer the following questions: What security threat did Eke Ututu market pose to the society?
“Did the perpetrators of this mayhem think of how many indigent people who depend on this market for their main source of livelihood? Did they think of the number of children who will have nothing to eat because their parents have lost their sources of income?
“Did they think of the resources burnt especially during this economic hardship? Did they think of the psychological trauma these local inhabitants will go through due to the violent act?” he queried.
While he condemned the killings and the destruction, he called for an unbiased investigation with a view to unraveling those behind the atrocity and the real motive behind it.
“I strongly condemn the destruction of Eke Ututu market. The burning down of this market has negatively touched the very core of the existence of these people who may be changed to a life of misery given the present economic strangulation we are in.
“I appeal to government authorities to investigate this incident and take necessary steps to prevent reoccurrence. Finally, I appeal to all to remain steadfast in our prayer for peace in our region.”
HURIWA which backed the position of the Catholic Bishop of Orlu, also asked the Church to expel the Imo State governor from the church since it was inconceivable that such horrendous crimes could be committed by soldiers without his approval but yet he goes to Church and is given the front row just as he is even assigned a priest to be with him in the government house.