Ohanaeze Ndigbo rejects army’s probe of IPOB killings
Says ‘you cannot be judge in your own case’
Apex Igbo cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has rejected the panel set up by the Nigerian Army to investigate the killings of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the south east and south south.
In a telephone interview with The Guardian, yesterday, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr) said the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Tukur Buratai cannot be judge in its own case.
According to Nwodo, the Chief of Army Staff can carry out an internal investigation in the service, but the findings of such an investigation will neither be acceptable to Ohanaeze nor stand the test of objectivity until it is subjected to an impartial body.
He said: “I am happy that the Chief of Army Staff has finally given attention to the reported brutality of his men towards members of IPOB and MASSOB. It is painful that my ceaseless call for a judicial commission of inquiry has fallen on deaf ears until Amnesty International got involved.
“In Ezu River, Anambra State, 21 bodies floated for two months without anyone identifying them till today. Claims that they were MASSOB members hacked down by combined police and army personnel remain uninvestigated. In Aba, soldiers for just gathering to hold a meeting gunned down IPOB members. No investigation was done. In Port Harcourt, IPOB claimed soldiers gunned down 11 of their members. I called for an inquiry nothing happened, instead further killings were done in Asaba.
“To further exacerbate the mood of IPOB members, the threat by the Chief of Army Staff that Nigeria cannot be divided in his lifetime is unnecessary. That kind of talk conditions the mindset of his troops to think that they are at war with these agitators. The constitution of Nigeria guarantees freedom of association, assembly and speech. So long as the agitators are peaceful and unarmed they are entitled to protection by our security services.
“The agitation for Biafra can only succeed if the National Assembly orders a plebiscite and majority of the people in the area vote for it, democratic expression cannot be halted by the guns. The irony of the Chief of Army Staff’s remarks is that even amongst Igbos, the jury is still out on whether restructuring or self-determination is the way out of their political situation. We advise that the completely non-Igbo committee of the Chief of Army Staff serve their masters’ views and not concern itself with an impartial inquisition, which will not have our patronage or regard,” Nwodo said.