Pro-democracy group calls on Otti to end killing of military personnel, illegal citizens arrest

A Pro-democracy and Environmental Rights Advocacy group, FENRAD, based in Abia State has called on Governor Alex Otti to intervene and end the unabated attacks on the military checkpoints in the state.

The group also warned against incidents of torture, illegal mass arrest, unlawful detention, invasion of homes and hotels, and enforced disappearances allegedly being perpetrated by the military.

Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, has been under siege by soldiers on reprisal attacks following the murder of five military personnel at Obikabia junction Aba in Obingwa LGA of Abia State on Thursday, May 30th, 2024.

FENRAD, in a statement on Wednesday, by Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, Executive Director and Femisi Akande, Head, Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement, said in the last couple of months alone there have been strings of coordinated attacks and murder suffered by the military at various posts.

The Foundation claimed it alerted the state on this and called for improved civil-military relations, intelligence gathering and deployment of street cameras and CCTV to all military posts in the state.

The statement reads in part” The latest and the most lamentable of these attacks was the one at Obikabia, whose aftermath resulted in panic, stampede, injuries, disinformation, breach of the peace, reprisal and near collapse of lawfully constituted authority.

“As stated earlier, there is no justification whatsoever for the incident of May 30. The Foundation, once again, calls for improvement in intelligence to preempt and ward off any likely future occurrence, as it sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the slain soldiers who died on active service, the Nigeria Army, and the entire security community in the nation.

“Having stated the above, while the Foundation condemns the killing of these innocent soldiers and supports any lawful initiative capable of bringing to book the perpetrators of the dastardly act, it also frowns upon the incidences of torture, illegal mass arrest, unlawful detention, invasion of homes and hotels, and enforced disappearances allegedly being perpetrated by the military.

“The Punch online of June 1, 2024, painted the gory picture using the story of Rose Agwu, a medical doctor who was on a night shift when her house in the Obikabia axis was invaded by the military with her siblings, including a 15-year-old, taken to an unknown destination by personnel of the Nigeria Army.

“Also were hotels and guest houses within the coordinates of Obikabia, the crime scene, invaded and residents and guests alleged to have disappeared.

“FENRAD witnessed the forced closure of markets in Aba, like Ahịaọhụrụ, Cemetery Market, Ariaria International Market and other markets, though calm is gradually returning now.

“All through last weekend, Aba was under a belligerent occupation, even aerially. While justice for the slain soldiers is essential, key, and paramount, an overkill is outright wrong, as is any counter-value military operation. Even in the law of war, there are rules of engagement as there is the notion of proportionality.

“The Foundation, therefore, calls on the military top brass to see to it that rules of engagement are adhered to.

“The Foundation also calls on Governor Alex Otti to see to it that calm returns to the state in the coming days as insecurity or heavy military action could be a driver of divestment.

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