‘Abia cattle market attacked to instigate fight against South East’
•Sues PSC, wants policemen sanctioned over Anglican Church invasion
Civil rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has blamed foreign mercenaries for executing the vicious attacks on the Abia State cattle market to instigate the killing of Igbos living in the North and spread civil conflicts between them and their Northern brothers.
HURIWA urged Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Governors of the South East and the Igbo World’s Congress to jointly hire forensic, security experts and investigators from any part of the world to uncover the exact identities of the so-called unknown gunmen who the rights group alleged are members of the security forces or foreign mercenaries hired by Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners Association who are angered by the anti-open grazing legislations in the region.
Reacting to the matter, the National Coordinator, HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to be a stateman and douse the rising tension by releasing the detained leader of the now proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and initiate broad-based national reconciliation and constructive dialogues among ethnicities to promote national integration and unity in Nigeria.
HURIWA said the ill-advised decision of President Buhari to clamp down militarily on IPOB is the fundamental cause of the security crisis in the South East because diverse groups with divisive agenda are now seeking to stoke up the embers of disunity.
“The video recordings of some of the attackers are everywhere. We do not think the Eastern Security Network or the now proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) are responsible for the Abia attacks. We believe even strongly that fifth columnists are out to destabilise the region.”
In a statement by Onwubiko and the National Media Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA, recalled that the Abia State Government had confirmed the reported attack by yet-to-be-identified gunmen on the newly constructed cattle market in Omumauzor in Ukwa West Local Government Area of the state where unspecified number of people were reportedly killed during the deadly attack on Tuesday evening.
HURIWA asked the State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu to rally round the rest of the political leaders of the South East to launch intensive manhunt of those responsible for the spate of orchestrated violence, which is aimed at destroying the region and appealed to all aggrieved persons to consider the need to promote peaceful coexistence.
HURIWA also tasked groups in the North to stop sensationalising the unfortunate attacks in the Abia State cattle market, which it believed was executed not by Igbos but by those who hate Igbos.
MEANWHILE, the group has dragged the Police Service Commission before the Federal High Court in Abuja over the invasion of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Owerri, in Imo State, by armed policemen.
Unidentified gunmen had invaded the church located in Eziama Obieri in the Nkwerre Local Council in December 26, 2021, shot sporadically during service and whisked away a former governorship aspirant in the state, Uche Nwosu, raising fears of his abduction.
Nwosu was later released amidst outrage by many Nigerians and the police hierarchies are yet to give an explanation as to why he was arrested in a Gestapo style during a church programme.
In a suit instituted by HURIWA, the group sought an order of mandamus compelling the respondent – the Police Service Commission – to probe the church invasion and the attempted kidnap of Nwosu.
HURIWA also sought “an order of mandamus compelling the respondent (PSC) to investigate the shootings inside and around the church premises for the purpose of finding out if the said shootings were necessary at the time.
Some of the grounds relied upon by HURIWA to sought the reliefs include: “By virtue of S. 4 of the Police Act and S. 214 of the 1999 constitution as amended, the Nigerian Police Force and its members are responsible for the maintenance of law and order, detection of crime and enforcement of all laws amongst other things. That the police service commission is by the third schedule, part 1, and federal executive bodies N0. 30 of the 1999 constitution clothed with the powers to amongst other thing dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons who are police officers except the inspector general of police.”
In accompanying affidavit, HURIWA National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, insisted that the policemen acted illegally and unconstitutionally by shooting, intimidating, scaring away worshippers and disrupting church activities on December 26 2021 at the Anglican church.
HURIWA said: “That lot of people were injured as they were trying to escape the bullets and the invading force as majority believed they were ‘unknown gun men’.
That the policemen thoroughly harassed the worshipping congregation with all their actions, which included severe shooting while dragging the said Uche Nwosu into their vehicle.”
The court has, however, yet to assign a date or a judge to hear the case.