HURIWA warns against branding actors, civilians as IPOB members
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, cautioned security agencies, including the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army and others to stop framing up Nollywood actors and innocent civilians as members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The rights group also noted that the African Traditional Religion (ATR) was being criminalised and demonised by security forces in the South East, as these agencies regularly invade sacred shrines to desecrate them under the guise of pursuing suspected IPOB members.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said: “The trend of trying to score erroneous points, by detaining and branding innocent Igbo youths, and prominent sons and daughters, as criminals is disconcerting.”
The group also bemoaned declining professional practices among members of the security forces and urged security agencies to release all Igbo youths falsely detained and languishing in cells and prisons all over the country.
HURIWA recalled that the Imo State Police Command arrested a Nollywood actor known as Hycent Azunna and branded him a member of IPOB’s Eastern Security Network (ESN), a claim that his friends nullified as untrue.
Also, last October, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the police colluded to arrest a veteran Nollywood actor, Chiwetalu Agu, over alleged promotion of Biafra and for wearing a Biafra outfit, while distributing bread and other items to the poor.
He was humiliated and spent days in detention but was later released when public outrage greeted his arrest. No charge was brought against him, as all allegations by security agents against him were false.
Similarly, a 21-year-old lady, Glory Okolie, was arrested, last year, by officers of the Intelligence Response Team in Owerri, Imo State. Okolie was arrested on June 17, 2021, the same day she was to sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
HURIWA said: “The arbitrary arrest of youths in Owerri and labelling them as IPOB members are highly disturbing.
“While we encourage clamp-down on criminals and ‘unknown gunmen’ who are distabilising the South East, we appeal for greater use of hardcore intelligence and skills to flush out mass killers and hoodlums.
“Framing up of Igbo youths as criminals is utterly nonsensical. Smacks of apartheid practices and ethnic profiling must stop.”