South East: Over 5,000 youths killed, 10, 000 languishing in detentions, says Igbo Elders

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Igbo Elders Council in FCT has raised alarm over rising arbitrary arrest and killing of Igbo youths in the South East and environs by soldiers and police on allegations of being members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN).

The Elder disclosed that so far, over 5,000 Igbo youths have been killed in the South East, while more than 10,000 others are languishing in horrible detention camps in different parts of Nigeria under questionable circumstances. Yet, none of the victims was a member of IPOB and ESN.

The Elders stated that non Igbos are fueling the crisis in the region so they could destabilize the region and make Nigerians and the world believe that the region is not in peace and won’t be able to produce the next President in 2023.

Former Anambra State Governor, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, registered the concerns of the Igbo Elders at a press conference in Abuja, where he called for immediate halt of military operations in the region which has led to several deaths and displacement.

He said: “The current military onslaught against the Igbos will not bring the much needed peace and stability in the South East in particular and Nigeria in general. Rather, dialogue, consultations, conferences , respect for one another, rule of law and fundamental human rights, democracy, accountability, transparency and good governance, as well as immediate restructuring of the country, resource control, equity, justice and fairness in all government policies, programmes, projects and appointments in the public service are the most feasible path to sanity, peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.

“We, therefore, call on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the United Nations, the European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia, China and the entire international community to take urgent and necessary actions to stop the current genocide against the Igbos in the South East and other parts of the South South in the interest of peace, stability and unity of Nigeria.

“The use of military force has never restored peace anywhere, hence the need to explore dialogue and other effective strategies that have worked elsewhere. The Igbo Elders Council are available and ready to be part of this process if given the opportunity to participate. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is a utilitarian adage in this context and at this time.”

The Elders, however, insisted that current militarization and wide spread carnage in the South East have precipitated unprecedented fear, tension and untold hardships on the people in the zone, thereby aggravating the security challenges in the land.

“We condemn without any reservation the destruction of public property in the South East because it’s not in our character to indulge in arson and brigandage. We believe, however, that it’s unfair and unjust to use a sledge hammer to kill harmless flies as many victims of this joint security agencies onslaught are innocent Igbo youths and other citizens, who have become victims of circumstances.”

The Elders said available information to them had indicated that despite the recent directive of the National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen Baba Gana Mungono (Rtd) to dismantle all check points throughout the federation, the security agencies in the South East still stop motorists at illegal checkpoints, search them in most dehumanizing manner in the guise of fishing out presumed members of IPOB and ESN, arrest youths, especially boys and march them to unknown destinations, most of whom never return alive.

They also alleged that security agencies, indiscriminately, invade private homes at odd hours in the guise of fishing out presumed IPOB and ESN members, arrest, maim, and, sometimes shoot innocent and hapless youths, and cart away their corpses to unknown destinations, thus denying them the opportunity of burial.

“The Igbo tradition values burial rites for the repose of the soul of the dead, yet our young victims of the military onslaught are denied that opportunity,” the Elders said.