Deploying more security agents in South-East will aggravate extrajudicial killings, HURIWA tells Buhari

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Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria(HURIWA), on Wednesday, said the recent approval by President Muhammadu Buhari that additional security personnel be deployed in the South-East will aggravate extrajudicial killings in the zone.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the path to lasting peace and security in Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia is true federalism which allows state governors to have control over security agents as the Chief Security Officers of their individual states.

For about one year, the South-East has become another killing field as non-state actors and state actors clash perpetually, leading to the gruesome death of hundreds of Igbo youths. Scores of police stations have been razed and government institutions as well as private assets have also been detonated by rampaging gunmen, with mounting casualty toll.

The most recent in the orgy of violence was the Saturday bombing of the Umuguma Divisional Police Headquarters situated at the Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, where two police constabularies were killed. The country home of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, at Awo-Omanma in the Oru East Local Government Area of Imo, was also razed.

Security agents including soldiers, airmen and policemen have also allegedly killed hundreds of Igbo youths wrongfully branded as members of Eastern Security Network arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra. Security agents under Operations Crocodile Smile, amongst others, have through area bombardment caused unimaginable horror and deaths and incarceration of Igbo youths.

The President recently summoned Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State over the rising killings and attacks, where the latter accused aggrieved politicians of orchestrating the unchecked violence in Imo. The governor also said the President approved the request for the deployment of more security personnel in the state.

Reacting, HURIWA faulted the deployment of extra security agents, saying such moves have not worked in the past but worsened the security crisis in Imo and other South-East states.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “To start with, the effects of violence, killings, arsons, organised terrorism that have swept around Imo State is worrisome. The constant deployments of soldiers and other security agents in the state and others in the South-East zone have proven ineffective. It is even disturbing that soldiers whose job mainly is to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria are deployed in Igboland and are wreaking unprintable havoc including extrajudicial killings of innocent Igbo youths.

“At this time, the deployment of more security agents is a bad decision. The move showcases the non-functionality of federalism as it should be because governors who are Chief Security Officers of their states have no control of the even the police and so we see a dysfunctional democracy and federalism in which the President who heads the executive arm of government at the centre ‘summoning’ governors who ought to be the executive heads of their federation units.

“This is the strongest reason for the right constitutional amendments to confer proper executive powers to the federating units in the area of securing their people.

“Secondly, sending more troops and arms at first value is good but it won’t solve the problem because the Federal Government is not tackling the problems from the roots which is to reorganise the heads of the security agencies in the South East so they are more effective and efficient and law-based heads of security agencies are appointed.

“Also, the lopsidedness in appointment of service chiefs which is part of the reasons for the resentment of aggrieved Igbo persons should be addressed. It is alarming that there no single Igbo man heading any of the state branches of the security forces in the South-East unlike other parts whereby persons from the same zone are appointed as heads of security services there in the North and South West.

“Also, the root cause of the crises is the wrongful imprisonment of the leader of the indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and hundreds of IPOB members. There have been consistent calls for appropriate negotiations so these political prisoners are freed and better truce worked out to allow for restoration of stability and security in the South East but the Buhari government has not paid any attention to this while Boko Haram terrorists and radical bandits are granted blanket amnesty.

“Furthermore, the collaborators of the attackers within the security agencies in the South East must be identified and fished out and prosecuted for sabotaging the security of the South East zone. Unless these saboteurs amongst the security agents are fished out and flushed out, there is no possibility of resolving the problems in a lasting manner since the conflict entrepreneurs who benefit from the terrorism in the South East will continue to stoke up the fire of violence.

“Let the President do the needful. Sending all the soldiers to the East won’t solve the problems but will heighten tension because many more innocent Igbo youth may be killed by these armed security forces who are just there to kill, maim and destroy and not for restoration of peace.”

Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
March 23, 2022

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