Identities And Confessional Statements Of Alleged Killers Of Enugu Catholic Priests Questionable- Intersociety

…Says The Condemnable Assault On Ekweremadu Is Ethno-Politicized

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, has said that the identities and confessional statements of the alleged abductors and killers of the two Enugu based Priests of the Catholic Church, as well as the abduction of the traditional Ruler of Obom-Agbaogwugwu, HRH Sunday Orji and his wife, among other violent crimes ravaging the State in recent months are circumstantially fallacious and remain questionable.

Intersociety also said that it is deeply sad and disturbing that the recent assault on Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Germany, as condemnable as it is, is now taking ethno-political dimension and blown out of media proportion; “all aimed at further stigmatization, criminalization, demonization and terrorization of the Igbo People including portraying them as a ‘rogue ethnic nationality in Nigeria’.

The above was the position of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Intersociety, as contained in a statement on 19th August 2019 and signed by Lawyers Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Evangeline Chidinma Udegbunam, Head of Campaign & Publicity Dept and Emeka Umeagbalasi, a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies and Board Chair of Intersociety. Intersociety is led by professionals and grassroots activists including criminologists, security studies experts, lawyers, journalists and peace and conflict resolution experts, etc.

It said the recent public statement credited to respected President of Oha-Na-Eze Igbo, Elder Nnia Nwodo, a senior lawyer, blaming Igbo youths for cashing in on ‘Fulani Herdsmen rampage in Igbo Land’ to abduct for ransom, rob and kill their fellow Igbo citizens especially the Priests of the Catholic Church, etc; is not only legally and circumstantially unsound, but also capable of emboldening the real perpetrators and escalating the referenced violent crimes which are systematically organized and targeted; with ethno-religious and economic coloration”.

The group further said that it may be socially disastrous if such magisterial assertion lacking in empiricism is not formidably refuted. “This is more so when the respected Oha-Na-Eze chief merely relied on the recent questionable public parade and disclosure by the Enugu State Police Commissioner, Mr. Suleiman Balarabe, of the alleged killers of the two Enugu based Priests of the Catholic Church as well as abductors of the Traditional Ruler of Obom-Agbogwugwu in Awgu Local Government Area of the State. To establish the veracity of CP Suileman Balarabe’s claims, such must be independently and expertly verified including hearing from the suspects, their lawyers and families including wives”, the statement adds.

Newscritic online reports that the Enugu CP, had on Friday, 17th August 2019, paraded ‘two suspected killers of Rev Father Paul Offu and 30 other suspects’ accused of being responsible for killing in March, of Rev Father Clement Ugwu as well as abduction of the Traditional Ruler of Obom-Agbaogwugwu, HRH, Sunday Orji and his wife; among other victims of violent crimes ravaging Enugu State in recent months or times.

Rev Father Clement Ugwu was abducted and killed on 14th March 2019, while Rev Father Paul Offu was abducted and killed on 1st August 2019.

“As if that was not enough, another Catholic Rev Father, Father Chimezie Ani of the same Enugu Catholic Church or Diocese had  few days ago, raised the alarm on how he narrowly escaped being abducted by suspected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen; usually referred by police authorities and censored media as “unknown gunmen”. The Traditional Ruler of Obom-Agbaogwugwu, HRH, Sunday Orji and his wife were abducted on 3rd August 2019. Also a former Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Barr Chikamnayo Eze had his car riddled with bullets by suspected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen on 4th August 2019. He narrowly escaped being abducted on the said date along Isuochi-Enugu Road, near UNTH in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

On the assault on Senator Ekweremadu, Intersociety said though it condemned it in strongest terms, the incident has been ethno-politicized. “Intersociety has never taken sides and will never take sides with violence and its perpetrators, be they state actors or non-state actors in Nigeria or beyond its borders. Jungle justice of any form is roundly condemned.

“However, the reasons for such assault by members of the Igbo Community in Germany are grounded and solidly justifiable, yet the response approach is very condemnable. It must be pointed out too that the degree of anger shown in the incident is a criminal misdemeanor (i.e. common assault) and not a felony. On conviction, it attracts only one to three years’ sentence.

“This is just to put the records straight and not to justify the assault on the first class Igbo Senator. The explanation is also to diminish the rapacious criminalization and escalation of same in the country’s deeply divided and ethnicized mainstream media.  It must be pointed out further that elements of wounding or assault occasioning bodily harm or aggravated assault or assassination attempt or attempted murder are all ruled out in the referenced assault.

“It is wrong for IPOB to say that Igbo Governors and other key Igbo political players proscribed the group as they lack such national codified powers and laws to do so. But it is likely more correct to accuse them of conspiracy in the vindictive proscription. That is to say that the reactions trailing the assault on Senator Ike Ekweremadu are welcome, yet, we are deeply worried over the silence or absence of such widespread reactions such as in the wake of well-coordinated atrocities against the Igbo Nation and her People.

“For instance, the media and key Igbo political actors, except few, had become silence and speechless when over 480 unarmed, defenseless and nonviolent citizens of the old Eastern Nigeria were massacred between August 2015 and Sept 2017. The same goes with rapacious militarization of Igbo Land and domination by 95% of all military, security and policing establishments in the Region and others by senior security officers of Northern Muslim background as well as unchecked official highway and roadway robberies on Eastern Roads.

“Such silence is further maintained in the ongoing ‘Fulanization and Islamization’ of Igbo Land including her forests, bushes and farmlands. In as much as we welcome the wide reactions condemning the assault on Senator Ike Ekweremadu, but such reactions are acutely selective and cowardice; disappearing when they are needed most.

“A clear case in point (ethno-politicization of assault on Senator Ekweremadu) was the latest report of Premium Times on Mr. Kanu’s broadcast following the assault. The named media outfit, went far in the ethno-politicization under complaint, by describing the international radio station (Radio Biafra Int’l) properly licensed by the UK Government as “rogue radio station”. Despite being professionally aware of what would have befallen Mr. Kanu and members of his royal family if they had not escaped from the obvious military massacre and assassination mission to their Afara-Ukwu Royal Palace on 13th and 14th Sept 2017; forcing them to flee the country alive; the respected Southwest media outfit went further to describe Mr. Kanu as “fugitive who jumped bail and escaped the country where he was standing trial for treason”.

“Such ‘tribally hateful media reports’ by a supposedly civilized and democracy and human rights friendly media outfit also has the capacity of emboldening the murderous Nigerian Army and others into launching another round of massacre operations in Eastern Nigeria solely targeting hundreds of defenseless Igbo population using criminalization, stigmatization, demonization and terrorization as well as prosecutorial vindictiveness. This, if allowed, could further lead to death of hundreds and maiming of others, possibly in double, as well as further disruption of economic or commercial

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