IPOB Killings: Ohanaeze Tackles Buratai
by Peter Okutu
The President General of the Igbo apex organization, Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has picked holes in the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General TY. Buratai’s inquiry into the alleged killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, by troops of the Nigeria Army. Nwodo said in a two-page statement titled “Buratai, With Respect, You Cannot Be a Judge in Your Own Court” and signed by him that General Buratai’s inquiry cannot stand the test of objectivity and therefore, its outcome would not be acceptable to the umbrella body. The Ohanaeze boss expressed regret that his ceaseless call for judicial commission of inquiry on the army brutality fell on deaf ears until Amnesty International got involved.
“In Ezu River in Anambra State, twenty-one bodies floated for two months without anyone identifying them up till today. Claims that they were MASSOB members hacked down by combined Police and Army personnel remain uninvestigated. “In Aba, IPOB members were gunned down by soldiers for just gathering to hold a meeting. No investigation was done. “In Port-Harcourt, IPOB claimed eleven of their members were gunned down by soldiers. I called for an inquiry but nothing happened. Instead, further killings were done in Asaba.”
Nwodo said that Ohanaeze is not opposed to the Army Chief carrying out an internal investigation in his service but noted that “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. The basis of our rule of law is that you must not be a judge in your own court. Nwodo expressed regret that the Army Chief is further exacerbating the mood of IPOB members by his threat that Nigeria cannot be divided in his lifetime, describing the statement as 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 Ohanaeze PG said. He reminded the Army Chief that 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 and warned that the democratic expression for it cannot be halted by guns!!
The Ohanaeze leader then advised that the completely non-Igbo committee of the Chief of Army Staff should serve their masters views, and not concern itself with an impartial inquisition which will not have our patronage or regard.
‘Buratai’s comment compromising’
Also yesterday, an Igbo leader of thought in Ebonyi state, Chief Abia Onyike, stated that the comment credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai that “You can’t divide Nigeria in my time; those agitating for an independent state should “forget it” had compromised the integrity of the 8-man panel set up by the Nigerian Army to investigate the alleged series of allegations of extra-judicial killings of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB by the country’s military. According to him, Buratai is assuming already that the killing of the agitators was justified.
In a statement issued in Abakaliki, the Igbo leader added that the Chief of Army Staff should not be talking about his lifetime when he is not one of the founding fathers of the country but a mere public officer whose portfolio is tenured.
The statement read in part: “While I welcome the probe of the alleged killing of pro-Biafran agitators by some Nigerian military personnel of the Nigeria Army, I think that the comments by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, has already compromised the outcome of the probe. “Buratai said that the agitators cannot achieve their aim in his lifetime. Buratai has put the cart before the horse, thereby destroying the legitimacy of the probe. By saying what he said, Buratai is assuming already that the killing of the agitators was justified. His statement is an overreaction to the challenge at hand. “He should not be talking about his life time in this circumstance because he is merely a public officer and not the founding father of Nigeria.
He can talk about his tenure or the period of his career as Army Chief because even former military presidents cannot afford to be that fanatical. “Buratai has failed to address the root causes of the agitations engulfing the Nigerian state, namely regional imbalances, economic inequalities, mass unemployment among the youths and religious intolerance. “Instead, he has always yielded to the parochial view that the crises can be resolved through maximum force.
Nigerian leaders should watch their excesses by taking note that the international community can no longer tolerate their genocidal instincts. “They should address their internal problems with maturity and stop the wanton destruction of innocent lives under the archaic canopy of enforcing national unity “on the throat of conquered and dehumanized nationalities. Buratai should review his strategies especially in the wake of the Zaria massacre of 2015 and the recent bombing of IDPs in Borno state. His tenure should not be a study in genocide before he could be adjudged as an effective Chief of Army Staff”.
Culled from Vanguard Newspaper