John Doe, et al. v. Buratai & 15 Ors (Civil Action No: 17-cv-01033-ESH: USA: DC): How It All Started (L. Part)
(Intersociety Nigeria, 3rd September August 2017)-Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law had two days ago (1st September 2017) released the first part of this statement; tracing the genesis of the civil action suit underlined above to the 11th and 16th November 2015 announcement by the Nigerian Military of violent crackdowns on unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra campaigners in the South-south and the Southeast Nigeria. The People of the two geopolitical zones and their territories are formerly called “the People and the Region of Eastern Nigeria”.
Recall, too, that the referenced declaration of military violence was immediately followed by another order made by then Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, who ordered his Zonal Commanders and State Commissioners of Police in the two zones to “use maximum force/shoot-at-sight” against unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra
campaigners. The then IGP’s order which was made on 2nd December 2015; was enforced few hours after it was made.
The two declarations of war by the Nigerian security forces against innocent, unarmed, defenseless and nonviolent Nigerians especially the pro Biafra campaigners and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) led to escalated and reckless shooting at close range with live bullets and killing of not less than 1500 unarmed and defenseless Nigerians and injuring of over 770 others; all in the periods between 30th August 2015 and 20th January 2017 or a period of 17 months. That is to say that the shootings and killings started way back on 30th August 2015, but got lethally escalated or widespread after the two war declarations were made in print on 11th and 16th November and 2nd December 2015.
Most victims of the mass killings and maiming are drawn from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shiites) which lost at least 1120 members with injuring of over 400 others; and the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (lost fewer numbers) which lost not less than 270 members/supporters; with over 370 others injured. The killings and maiming were all perpetrated by the present central Government in
Nigeria. There are also scores of dark figures of crime or those that were not recorded or went missing till date.
For instance, the leadership of IMN has maintained with facts and figures that “not less than 650 and not more than 783 of its members have remained unaccounted for in the hands of Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai led Nigerian Army since 12th, 13th and 14th December 2015”. This did not include 347 dead bodies of the members of the unarmed Islamic sect that the Government of Kaduna admitted were buried in mass graves in mid December 2015. Till date, the perpetrators including the Chief of Army Staff are on the prowl with the present central Government in Nigeria doing nothing; warranting the international suit above as well as others yet to come, which will surely come.
US Suit Powered by Investigative Findings of Intersociety and Amnesty Int’l: It is further important to recall that Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law had on 3rd December 2015 launched full advocacy investigation into the 2nd December 2015 shooting and killing of unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra protesters at the Onitsha Niger
Bridgehead and its immediate environs. Not less than 12 citizens were killed with scores of others injured. Our Organization also investigated the 17th December 2015 shooting and killing of jubilant pro Biafra activists by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead leading to the death of not less than 13 citizens and injuring of scores of others.
On 14th and 15th February 2016, the Intersociety’s investigation team led by Emeka Umeagbalasi (a criminologist & graduate of security studies) traveled to Aba following the Aba National High School massacre of IPOB members who were singing and praying inside the School’s premises. More than 30 citizens were massacred by soldiers of the 144 Battalion, attached to the 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army at Ohafia in Abia State as well as the police personnel of the Abia State Police Command and other members of the State Joint Security Taskforce mobilized and funded by Governor Victor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
Over 40 others got injured. The dead included 13 lifeless bodies confirmed by AI investigators to be members of the IPOB who possibly attended the same prayer rally of 9th February 2016. They were discovered to have been dumped inside an Aba burrow pit on 12th February 2016, located along Aba-Port Harcourt Road in Abia State. Some of the lifeless bodies had their hands tied behind their backs with their eyes covered or tied with pieces of Biafran flags;
suggesting that they must have been brought to the burrow pit alive before they were shot dead. Other burrow pit dead IPOB members were left untied; meaning that they were killed and possibly brought to the burrow pit by their colleagues under the matching orders of the soldiers; leading to the killing of the former on the spot to erase
traces. The corpses were later on 1st March 2016 set ablaze under gravely suspicious circumstances. Amnesty International research team specifically met the corpses burning during their returned visit to the burrow pit on the said 1st March 2016.
Following the commencement of our investigation referred above, efforts were also made to contact Amnesty International. The internationally respected rights group responded almost immediately and launched its own investigation into the military and police massacre of pro Biafra campaigners in Nigeria. The highlight of AI’s
maiden investigation under reference was by its visit to Aba on 18th February 2016. Efforts made at contacting the research team of US based Human Rights Watch in Nigeria to also launch its own investigation failed woefully. This we have severally suspected and still suspect to have borne out of ethnic bias; on account of the fact that the head of the HRW research team in Nigeria is from the Southwest.
Intersociety’s investigations continued into the 29th and 30th May 2016 Biafra Heroes Day massacre in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba in which not less than 140 citizens were massacred (110 deaths in Nkpor/Onitsha and 30 in Asaba) and over 130 others injured by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment with reinforcements from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army. The massacre operations were mobilized or funded by Governor William Obiano led Government of Anambra State and coordinated by the top commanders of the Anambra State Police Command and the Onitsha Military Cantonment, etc; under the Anambra State Joint Security Taskforce.
Our investigations also covered the pro Trump Inauguration Rally shooting and killing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 20th January 2017 organized by the IPOB led pro Biafra campaigners or movements; leading to the death of not less than 15 and injuring of over 70 others. Our investigation searchlight also did not overlook the military massacre of Shiite Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. As a discriminatory and human rights organization, we have remained frontally and firmly opposed to killing of any member of the human family outside the law, human dignity and morality; irrespective of his or her religion/sect, tribe, ethnicity, race, gender, age, colour, class or socio-political affiliation. This position of ours is totally unyielding, unapologetic and uncompromising!
In all, Intersociety did not only carry out comprehensive investigations referred above, but also periodically released its
findings for public views, analyses and necessary actions by the concerned State actors and non-State actors domiciled within and across local and international borders. The mother report of Intersociety was released on 12th March 2017 and titled: welcome to bleeding republic of Nigeria: a land flowing with blood and tears. As recently as 20th July 2017, Intersociety also released another technical or expertise report, titled: the untold story of Ezu River
police SARS killings: Inside Anambra’s Theatre of Butchery where Police SARS send the Good, the Bad and the Ugly to Early Graves Outside the Law.
Our investigations and their findings referred above are thorough, strong and impenetrable; leading to their wide readership and acceptance. We had also in the course of the release of our public statements on the massacre of innocent, unarmed and defenseless pro Biafra campaigners called on all people of good conscience especially the people of Igbo race resident in any part of the world to take up those responsible for the referenced massacre of the youths of the Igbo race and their South-south brothers and sisters and ensure that they pay severely for their heinous crimes so as to deter other would-be murderers of the Igbo and South-south populations. We had demanded for civil and criminal justices to be visited against those perpetrators using available local, regional and international justice
Gladly, our calls, made under the auspices of Intersociety and SBCHROs yielded a positive result; leading to indication of interest and partnership by some pro humanist and human rights groups; which are also not-for-profit registered outfits in the United States. These are the Ekwenche Group and the Biafran Genocide Survivors’ Group; all
based in USA and made up of Igbo-Nigerian civil/public servants (mainly lecturers and private sector actors) working in USA. Locally, Forum for the Promotion of National Ethics & Values (FPNEV) led by Prince Emeka Onyeso (Okpala EzeNri) also indicated a selfless and passionate interest; leading to advocacy collaborations between Intersociety, SBCHROs, FPNEV and the named US based social advocacy groups as well as our indefatigable friends drawn from local and international online, print and electronic news media. The encouragement and in-kind supports of other local and international rights groups and research institutions as well as our local friends are also irresistibly worthy of mention. The role played some leaders/members of the pro Biafra group especially the IPOB and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria during our referenced investigations still gladdens our heart. The legal departments/teams of these two groups are singled out for special commendation. Their cooperation and assistance to us by way of supply of vital information and availability of requisite facts were and are still awesomely commendable!
It is therefore the totality of these that culminated into the involvement of Mr. Bruce Fein and his partner-Mr. W. Bruce DelValle of FEIN & DELVALLE PLLC and filing on 30th May 2017 of the civil action suit (Doe, el al. v Buratai & 15 ors) at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, presided over by Hon Judge Helen S. Huvelle (appointed by President William Clinton). The suit number is 17-cv-01033-ESH (USA: DC). Mr. Bruce Fein had once served as the deputy attorney general of USA under the Ronald Reagan Administration; among his other track records and achievements. The filing of the suit was specifically at the instance of the Ekwenche and the Biafra
Genocide Survivors’ groups in the United States.
It was grandly on account of the above that Mr. Bruce Fein and his partner-Mr. W. Bruce DelValle paid a recent visit to Enugu-Nigeria (19th August to 24th August 2017); during which they held several meetings including meeting with legal guardians of the 9 slain pro Biafra activists and a survivor/torture victim. The legal guardians whose identities are judicially sealed on orders of the US Court are made of five females and five males. In the said suit, they are demanding, among other legitimate reliefs; over $200Million from the killers and torturers of their slain and tortured loved ones. The renowned US lawyers also took more evidence and conducted further facts verification exercises and held strategic meetings with leading Southeast/Igbo intelligentsia, elders’ forums, first class traditional rulers, civil society coalitions and human rights organizations; all based in the Southeast Zone. One of the eminent personalities that the renowned US lawyers met with is Dr. Arthur Nwankwo; a foremost Nigerian social crusader/human rights activist. Among other important personalities met by the US visitors are Dr Dozie Ikedife, Prof Obasi Igwe of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Chief Mrs. Maria Okwor; a foremost feminist and social crusader. No politician among the present political class in Nigeria was contacted or consulted or allowed to meet with the US visitors. The US Embassy in Nigeria also played little or no role in the lawyers’ visit.
It is also transparently important to mention that the immense goodwill of Intersociety boss and that of FPNEV boss paid off during the duo’s visit. While the open market cost of such visit in Nigeria ordinarily would have run into millions of naira, it is gratifying to say that the actual cost of the two Bruces’ visit covering their hotel bills, feeding, out-hotel lunches, transportation and hiring of meeting hall; and the hosts’ call cards, internets, feeding, etc; did not go beyond N500, 000 or equivalent of $1.400. While the cost of their flight, etc was borne by the Ekwenche/Biafra Genocide Survivors’ leadership in USA; the Intersociety and the FPNEV bosses bore the local cost highlighted above. Importantly and happily, the visitors’ hotel bills were heavily subsidized by the owner of the hotel; on
account of Prince Emeka Onyeso’s towering goodwill.
This transparency account or advocacy position of ours is considered extremely necessary so as to preempt and guide against the wickedness of mischief makers especially some criminal elements within the Nigerian security establishments with their hired media elements and columnists who may most likely twist and brutally bastardize this
noble statement of ours as they did on 4th June 2017. The mischief makers had on 4th June twisted our noble and widely published statement of 2nd June 2017 and re-titled it thus: “Intersociety & SBCHROs name Peter Obi, Ike Ekweremadu and 21 others as Sponsors of Insurgency of the Pro Biafran Groups”; after which they funded it to
be planted and published in some hostile online and print news media as “a version of the story emanating from Intersociety and SBCHROs”.
Finally, for the purpose of setting the records straight, the
following are the names of the sixteen (16) defendants in the US suit:
No17-cv-01033-ESH (USA: DC):
(1) Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai: culpability and
vicarious liability in the massacre and maiming of defenceless Shiite
Muslims and pro Biafra activists in Kaduna, Anambra, Abia, Delta and
(2) Governor William Maduabuchi Obiano: complicity in the 2nd and 17th
December 2015 pro Biafra protest shootings and killings and the 29th
and 30th May 2016 pro Biafra Heroes Day massacre in Anambra State.
(3) Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu: complicity in the 18th and 29th
January shooting and killing of IPOB members and the 9th February 2016
IPOB massacre in Aba
(4) Retired IGP Solomon Arase: culpability and vicarious liability by
ordering the maximum use of force and violent crackdown on unarmed and
nonviolent pro Biafra protesters.
(5) IGP Ibrahim Kpotum Idris: operational culpability in the pro
Biafra protests’ massacre in his capacity then (2nd December 2015 to
30th May 2016) as AIG Federal OPS
(6) DIG Habila Joshak (then CP Abia), now DIG OPS: operational
culpability in the pro Biafra activists’ singing and rally massacre in
Aba on 9th February 2016.
(7) AIG Hosea Karma (then CP Anambra), now AIG Zone 9: operational
culpability in the pro Biafra protests’ massacre of 29th and 30th May
2016 in Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba.
(8) Major Gen Ibrahim Attahiru (then GOC 82 Division, Enugu and now
theatre commander, Operation Lafiya Dole): operational culpability in
the pro Biafra protests’ massacre of 29th and 30th May 2016 in Anambra
State and its Asaba spill over massacre.
(9) CP Babatunde Johnson Kokomo (then DCP OPS, Anambra), now CP
Armaments at Force Headquarters, Abuja: operational culpability in the
pro Biafra protests’ massacre of 29th and 30th May 2016 in Nkpor,
Onitsha and Asaba.
(10) Col Issah Mehadi Abdullahi (then Commander/Cantonment
Commandant, Onitsha 302 Artillery; now at NIPSS, Kuru near Jos for a
promotional course): operational culpability in the pro Biafra
jubilation and protests’ massacre of 17th December 2015 and 29th and
30th May 2016 in Anambra State.
(11) Major C.O. Ibrahim of Military Police Unit; now Commander of the
Onitsha Military Cantonment Military Police Unit (leader of the army
massacre operations of 29th and 30th May 2016 in Anambra State):
(12) CSP James Oshim Nwafor (OC/SARS, Anambra during the 2nd December
2015 joint massacre operations at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead, now O/C
File at CP’s Admin Office, Awka): operational culpability.
(13) CSP Bassey Abang (OC/SARS, Anambra during 29th and 30th May 2016
massacre, now OC/SARS, Abia State): operational culpability.
(14) ACP Peter W. Nwagbara (then Aba Area Commander during 9th
February 2016 IPOB massacre, now Police Area Commander of the Akwanga
Area Command in Nasarawa State): operational culpability.
(15) : Lt Col Sidi Umar Kasim (then Commander of 144 Battalion at Ukwa
Ngwa that massacred IPOB activists on 9th of February 2016 in Aba; now
redeployed to 14 Brigade, Ohafia in Abia State): operational
(16) Retired SSS Director Musa Lawal Daura (SSS DG; his agency
supplied hostile intelligence leading to the massacre in addition to
participation of his men in the joint security taskforce or JTF that
perpetrated the mass murder of pro Biafra activists): complicity
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law
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]
Pictorial Attachment: Pictures 1 showing the visiting US Lawyers in
group photograph with Intersociety Boss (Emeka Umeagbalasi); 2 showing
the US Lawyers in another group photograph with attendants of the
joint meeting of the elders’ forum/traditional rulers/Igbo
intelligentsia/Igbo civil society/human rights organizations held in
Enugu on 21st August 2017; and 3 showing the US Lawyers seated with
Aloysius Attah (Chair CLO, Southeast), Okpala EzeNri, Prince Emeka
Onyeso (Boss of Forum for the Promotion of National Ethics & Values)
and Emeka Umeagbalasi (Boss of Intersociety Nigeria).