John Doe, et al. v. Buratai & 15 Ors (Civil Action No: 17-cv-01033-ESH (USA: DC): How It All Started (1)
(Intersociety Nigeria, 1st September August 2017)-On 11th November 2015, the Nigerian Army issued a violent threat against protesting pro Biafra activists and their leaders in the Southeast and the South-south zones of the country. The Army also labeled peaceful assemblies especially those organized by pro Biafra activists as “treason and insurrection”. On 16th November 2015, the Nigerian Military through the Chief of Defense Staff issued a further violent threat and ordered violent crackdowns including shoot-at-sight against unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra protesters in Southeast and South-south Nigeria.
The violent threat was immediately followed and backed by a presidential statement. The peaceful and nonviolent street protests organized by IPOB led pro Biafra campaigns were fueled by the arrest of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra London (RBL), Prince Nwannekaenyi Okwu Kanu (Nnamdi Kanu), who was arrested on 14th October 2015 and taken into the SSS solitary dungeon.
The Nigerian Military’s threats of shoot-at-sight and other forms of military violence were also repeated and extended to members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shiites) by the Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai in his various television appearances and other media interviews. We had then found and still find such military terrorism to be a grave affront to rights to peaceful assembly and association; and rights to freedoms of expression and thought, conscience and religion; guaranteed and democratically granted to all citizens of Nigeria by Sections 40, 39 and 38 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as well as the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981 and the Int’l Covenant on Civil & Political Rights of 1976 (etc); all ratified by Nigeria in 1983 and 1993 respectively.
Consequently, on 13th November 2015, the leaderships of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) issued a joint statement warning the military and police authorities of the national, regional and international consequences of their planned violence against pro Biafrans, if carried out. Intersociety had earlier on 12th November 2015 released its own statement condemning the two statements of the Nigerian Military. Intersociety and SBCHROs’ statements were in response to that of the Military issued on 11th and later repeated on 16th November 2015 in which the Military tagged nonviolent protests by pro Biafra agitators as “treason and insurrection” and threatened the protesters with shoot-at-sight and other forms of military violence.
The Army statement is found here: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/11/biafra-army-warns-against-act-of-felony/ and those of Intersociety and SBCHROs are available on www.intersociety-ng.org . As if the Military threats of violence were not enough, the then Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase followed up and damnably issued another threat of violent crackdown against unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra protesters and specifically directed his then Police Zonal Commanders and Commissioners of Police in the Southeast and the South-south Zones to “use maximum force or violent crackdown against any gathering or protest in connection with pro Biafra agitation or any protest calling for the release of key IPOB leaders”.
The then IGP’s violent order was issued in the morning of 2nd December 2015. The then IGP’s threat of violence is found here: http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/194275-nigeria-police-chief-orders-anti-riot-force-to-maximally-restrain-pro-biafra-protester
Intersociety and SBCHROs had in their said statements of 12th and 13th November 2015 vowed to explore available local or national, regional and international justice remedies (both civil and criminal) to get the would-perpetrators to account for their would-be regime atrocities no matter how long it would take; should their threats of military violence against unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra campaigners or activists be carried out.
In the noon of 2nd December 2015, a combined team of police (including SARS), army, SSS and navy personnel, etc; mobilized by the Government of Anambra State under State Joint Security Taskforce; and in collaboration with the Nigerian Police Force and the Army, opened fire with live bullets on pro Biafra protesters, killing not less than 12 and injuring dozens of others.
The killings took place between the axis of Onitsha Upper Iweka, Obodoukwu Road and Onitsha Niger Bridgehead. The police personnel of the Anambra State Police Command had earlier on 30th August 2015, opened fire with live bullets on pro Biafra protesters in Onitsha and Awka, killing not less than six persons and injuring several others. The Nigerian security forces had on same 30th August 2015 opened fire on pro Biafra protesters in Enugu, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Asaba, killing scores and injuring dozens of others.
On 17th December 2015, following an Abuja Federal Court judgment ordering for the unconditional release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, soldiers stationed at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead, drafted from the Onitsha Military Cantonment; opened fire on jubilant IPOB members, killing 13 and injuring several others. Three of those killed were later on 21st December 2015 dumped by the soldiers at the Onitsha General Hospital after their lifeless bodies were taken away from the scene of the killing on 17th December 2015. Hospitals where the wounded were being treated were also invaded by soldiers in the late night of 17th December 2015 who also abducted them from their hospital beds and dumped them inside their barracks for several hours without medical treatments.
On 12th December 2015, the Nigerian Army convoy with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai on board; genocidally opened fire with live bullets on unarmed and defenseless members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shiites); killing hundreds and wounding many others. The massacre took place in Zaria during the annual religious procession of the Shiites. The COAS turned around and hurriedly raised a false alarm; claiming that there was an assassination attempt on his life.
As if that was not enough, the soldiers regrouped on 13th and 14th December 2015 and went on further menacing killing spree; massacring and maiming hundreds of Shiites as well as razing to rubbles their holy places of worship located in Zaria (Kaduna State). The leader of the nonviolent Muslim sect, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zaky and his beloved wife-Zeenatu were also severally shot at and lacerated with live bullets. The Sheik’s three sons and his younger nephew were also killed in his presence while his 70yrs old sister was burnt alive by soldiers during the same genocidal attacks of 14th December 2015. The Shiite Muslims have lost not less than 1120 members mostly in the hands of the Nigerian Army since June 2015.
Till date, Sheik El-Zaky and his beloved wife are still detained without trial. A total of 1000 unarmed and defenseless Shiite members/citizens of Nigeria have remained unaccounted for since 12th, 13th and 14th December 2015 till date. The leadership of the IMN had as recently as on 30th August 2017 specifically told Amnesty International with verifiable pieces of evidence that not less than 650 of their members have not been accounted for or have disappeared in the hands of Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai led Nigerian Army since 12th, 13th and 14th December 2015.
Killing and maiming of unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra activists also took place on 18th and 29th January and 9th February (Aba massacre) 2016 in Aba as well as 29th and 30th May in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba (Nkpor massacre). There was pro Trump rally killing in Port Harcourt on 20th January 2017; all leading to not less than 270 deaths and 370 injuries.
For full details, please visit our website: www.intersociety-ng.org or google our press statements of 18th and 22nd June 2017; titled: Nigerian Army’s False Claims Against Slain Innocent Biafra Activists: Graphic Accounts (1) and Nigerian Army’s False Claims Against 270 Slain Innocent Pro Biafra Activists & 370 Injured Others: How They Were Massacred And Maimed (Concluded). For those that have not read our special report, titled: welcome to bleeding republic of Nigeria: a land flowing with blood and tears: March 2017; please visit our website above or google the report as titled.
We had also on 16th February 2016 sent a 10-page memo to the Minister of Interior (Abdulrahman Bello Dambazzzau, PhD) and the Chief of Defense Staff (Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin). The memo was titled: Ceaseless Killing Of Unarmed Citizens In Nigeria: Why Security Chiefs Must Desist From Provoking More Insurgencies Capable Of Plunging Nigeria Into Syrian Style Violence. The memo contained a catalogue of regime atrocities perpetrated by army and police personnel against unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra activists including killing and dumping inside an Aba burrow pit of 13 members of pro Biafra group (IPOB). The memo specifically called on the present Federal Government of Nigeria to end the butchery and investigate and punish all the perpetrators and their accomplices. As expected, nothing was done.
Between November 2015 and this August 2017, over 60 advocacy positions had been taken by our organization with respect to the subject matter under reference; drawing the policy and administrative attentions of the present Federal Government of Nigeria and its relevant security establishments for the purpose of frontally addressing the butcheries and related regime atrocities complained of; yet the regime atrocities have not only continued but also reached an alarming proportion. As recently as 6th July 2017, we addressed another 17-page memo to then Acting President on the same issue. The memo was presidentially received on 11th July 2017; yet we have neither been communicated nor did our complaint frontally and judiciously look into till date.
It is therefore extremely important to inform that the long journey to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, ably presided over by Hon Judge Helen S. Huvelle (appointed by President William Clinton) came as a result of the conspiracy and monumental failure of the present Federal Government of Nigeria in the named regime atrocities which clearly constitute crimes against humanity, prosecutable or adjudicatory within and beyond borders or in any part of the world especially in those countries with conformity jurisdictions or legislations such as the USA’s Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, Pub.L.102-256, 106 Stat. 73 (March 12, 1992) (“TVPA”) and 28 U.S.C.&1350. The civil action suit, referenced: 17-cv-01033-ESH (USA: DC), filed on 30th May 2017 is just the beginning and one out of more to come in coming calendar months/years.
The US Civil Action suit is also designed to track down locally, regionally and internationally the regime atrocities’ perpetrators and their conspirators in Nigeria to account for their heinous crimes against humanity using their positions of authority in a most reckless, wicked, brazen and beastly manner and reminiscent of the Rwandan regime atrocities’ perpetrators under the infamous regime of Gen Juvénal Habyarimana, who atrociously served as Rwanda’s President from July 5, 1973 to April 6, 1994. On 6th April 1994 Gen Habyarimana’s regime atrocities caught up with him and bounced back on him, leading to his perfect killing using his private falcon jet crash on 6th April 1994. His aviation killing instantly snowballed into the Rwandan Genocide of 6th April to 15th/21st July 1994; leading to the mass death of 800,000-1000, 000 people.
The concluding part of this statement is in the making, to be released in few days.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]
Barr Obianuju Igboeli
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Email: [email protected]
Barr Ndidiamaka Bernard
Head, Int’l Justice and Human Rights Program
Email: [email protected]