(Onitsha Nigeria, 28thDecember 2015)- Carefully planned war-like events going on at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead have clearly revealed that the Hausa-Fulani segment of the Nigerian Army have declared a Second Civil War against the Igbo Ethnic Nationality of Nigeria and their South-south counterparts; particularly millions of Xmas returnees. Their sacred rights to ancestral homeland and ethnic identity are under intense threat. It is historically unheard of that a people of innocent background and character, returning to their ancestral homes for special seasonal feast like Xmas; are blocked and made to suffer and suffocate few miles to their ancestral homes. In the instant case, new born children and their nursing mothers as well as elderly people and children, etc are made to undergo excruciating pains and hardships with many sleeping inside their vehicles and by bush sides. Perishable food and domestic items worth millions of naira are also lost.
Recall that on 2nd and 17th December 2015, a total of 25 innocent citizens were killed at the same Onitsha Niger Bridge by the same Hausa-Fulani soldiers attached to the 302 Artillery Regiment of the Nigerian Army, Onitsha led by an Hausa-Fulani born Army officer, Col Issah Abdullahi. Over 40 innocent citizens were also critically injured following live bullets targeted at them and shot at close range. The two butcheries resulted to instant death of 21 innocent citizens while four others shot at the chest, head and abdomen regions of their bodies died later in hospital as a result of deadly injuries sustained. In the 2nd December killings, 13 innocent citizens were shot dead and over 20 sustained deadly gunshot wounds. At the Multicare Hospital alone, 14 critically shot citizens were admitted, out of which, four died. And in the 17thDecember killings, 8 innocent citizens were murdered by soldiers and 20 others sustained deadly gunshot injuries, out of which, 13 were admitted at the Multicare Hospital alone.
As if these were not enough, the Hausa-Fulani soldiers of the same 302 Regiment had since Wednesday, 23rd December 2015, blocked the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and deliberately subjected the Igbo and South-south Xmas returnees to excruciating pains and hardships under the guise of checking and spotting members of IPOB and MASSOB; to the extent that livestock and perishable food items worth millions of naira were lost. On Thursday, 24th December 2015, our field team that visited the Bridgehead to see the sore goings on; spoke to some owners of the livestock and perished food items off the Bridge and at their offloading joints along Atani Road in Ogbaru LGA, over 200 dead chickens and baskets of rotten food items were counted; all lost to suffocation following excruciating traffic jams created by the Hausa-Fulani soldiers.
In another field trip yesterday, 27th December 2015, at the Niger Bridgehead led by our Board Chairman, which took place between 2.32pm and 4.05pm, the Onitsha end of the Bridgehead was deliberately and completely blocked by the HausaFulani soldiers, obviously acting under firm directives of the duo of Col Issah Abdullahi, Commander of the Onitsha Army Regiment and the GOC of 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Ibrahim Attahiru. The trip also included a visit to hospitals where some victims of the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead Army shooting were receiving treatments.
The same soldiers’ blockage was the case at the Asaba end of the same Bridge. Yet, major reason given by the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force for embarking on the shooting and killing spree at the same Niger Bridge on 2nd and 17th December 2015, against pro Biafran peaceful protesters was falsely laid on “blockage of the important Bridge linking Southeast and South-south with the rest of Nigeria.” The carefully planned Second Civil War at the Niger Bridgehead totally marks itself out with other military checkpoints across the country where all forms of deliberate traffic jams are totally eliminated. To crown it all, most, if not all the soldiers stationed at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead are soldiers of HausaFulani extraction, who are imbued with chronic hatred of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality. Their positioning at the Niger Bridgehead is further accompanied with compound hatred (hate directive from their commanders and tribal hatred).
This explains our firm position that Second Civil War is ongoing at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead. We wish to draw the attention of the international community concerning the ongoing persecution of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality by the Buhari administration in Nigeria; using carefully selected hate or xenophobia elements within the Nigerian Army. It also appears that Governor Willie Obiano as the Chief Security Officer of Anambra State is overpowered by orders from above; rendering him gubernatorially castrated and forcing him into unceremonious relocation to his Aguleri Home; from where he watches helplessly his own people being tormented and threatened and punished for belonging to Igbo Ethnic Nationality of Nigeria and for daring to visit their sacred homes this Xmas season. No sensible, capable and competent Governor folds his hands and watches his people returning for seasonally important feast like Xmas; being made to sleep by bush sides or inside their vehicles for many hours, if not whole day; few miles to their ancestral homes. This is the greatest threat against their rights to ethnic identity, existence and social development and cohabitation; enshrined and recognized in the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981 (domesticated by Nigeria in 1983).
We enjoin all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and all over the world to call on the Government of Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of uttermost immediacy, pull its Hausa-Fulani dominated soldiers out of the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead. The Bridge must also be decongested so as to allow for free flow of traffic for innocent citizens of Southeast and South-south zones making their Xmas trips. No Ethnic Nationality, no matter how small or perceived weak; will tolerate being chased into its ancestral homes, killed, tortured or enslaved with impunity.
The Government of Muhammadu Buhari is dangerously pushing the Igbo Ethnic Nationality to the wall. Yesterday, it was open and unprovoked mass shooting and killing of their innocent sons and daughters for exercising non violently and peacefully their constitutional and treaties’ rights; and today, their sons and daughters returning home from across the world are again being threatened, questioned and punished for belonging to their generational ancestries.
When John De Baptism was shouting in the wilderness and the land of the living about the coming and birth of Jesus Christ, he was thought to be a fool and messenger of falsehood; yet, from AD 01 till date, his prophecy had long come to pass. We have spoken!
Emeka Umeagbalasi (Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Mobile Phone: +2348174090052