By NewsCritic Reporters
A coalition of civil society group in the eastern Nigeria led by Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi and the authorities of the Nigerian military are on warpath, following the alleged execution of six Igbo soldiers at the Abacha Barracks, Abuja on the 21st January, 2021.
The Eastern Nigeria’s Rights and Intelligentsia Coalition in a statement issued on February 2, 2021, said it received with shock the secret execution of six Igbo Christian soldiers, attached to the armoury Department of the Nigerian Army, Abacha barracks, Abuja.
The names of the slain Igbo soldiers are, Prince Ukwuoma, Ebube Isaiah, Amos Azubuike, Ekene Ebere, Moses Anyim, and Godwin Uchendu, who were alleged to had been secretly executed under the instruction of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai (retd), just a day before he left office.
The coalition said the news of the incident was disclosed to them by Barr E.R Okoroafor, an international human rights lawyer, who is conversant with the matter and was also contacted by one of the slain soldiers through his family to defend them in the trumped-up charges. The group said they were executed using hazy and clandestine military court martial.
According to the lawyer, “sometime in Sept 2020, an allegation of missing weapons was made at Abacha Barracks, and it was immediately traced to a senior Colonel of Fulani-Hausa Muslim origin and instead of the COAS to issue query and sanction the Colonel, he exonerated him on the grounds of his tribe and religion.
“The COAS turned around and ordered for the arrest of 12 soldiers guarding the armoury, comprising six Igbo soldiers, three Yoruba soldiers and three Fulani-Hausa Muslim soldiers. In the end, the latter soldiers were shielded and exonerated under questionable circumstances and the six Igbo soldiers made to face secret court martial, during which they were blocked and prevented from having access to their families and defense lawyers of their choice”.
Barr E.R. Okoroafor also told the Coalition that his attempts to stand in for the Igbo soldiers were stiffly opposed, and he was flimsily told by the Army’s Legal Department that “civilian lawyers are not allowed to defend the accused soldiers except military lawyers”. Their trial was totally shrouded in secrecy and never disclosed to the public through Army statements till date; likewise, their constitutional right of appeal to Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, which was also totally denied. The persecuted and executed soldiers protested their innocence to the point of tendering their resignation in protest; all to no avail”, the Eastern Rights group stressed.
The group said it has resolved to launch local and int’l justice campaigns against the immediate past Nigerian Army Chief, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai (retd) and over 20 others concerning their atrocious rights abuses while in office.
“It is our strong recommendation that the named perpetrators, especially Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd) must face prosecution and life jail at ICC or in national courts in any foreign country operating int’l criminal jurisdictions on crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
However, data sourced online by this reporter quoted the military as describing the report on the execution of Igbo military officers as fake news, but the Eastern Rights group insists that Igbo soldiers were executed.