Lagos based constitutional lawyer, Bob Okey Okoroji, has demanded a thorough investigation into the alleged execution of six Igbo soldiers by the Nigerian Army, warning that the matter should not be swept under the table.
It would be recalled that a coalition of rights activists and intellectuals under the umbrella of Eastern Nigerias Rights & Intelligentsia Coalition, had last week, alleged that six Nigerian soldiers of Igbo origin were secretly executed in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after a hasty secret trial at which they were denied legal representation of their choice.
The coalition had in a statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair, Intl Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law; Prof Anthony Ejiofor – Chairman, World Igbo Congress (USA); Prof Uzodimma Nwala – President, Ala-Igbo Development Foundation (ADF), among others, said it was informed of the shocking development by Barr. E.R. Okoroafor, an international human rights lawyer, who was allegedly denied the right to defend his client at the secret trial.
We have received with rude shock and deepest dismay the Monday, 25th January 2021 secret execution of six Igbo Christian soldiers, attached to the Armory Department of the Nigerian Army, Abacha Barracks in Abuja.
“The slain Igbo Christian soldiers namely: Prince Ukwuoma, son of a traditional ruler; Ebube Isaiah, Amos Azubuike, Ekene Ebere, Moses Anyim and Godwin Uchendu were secretly executed under the instruction of now retired Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a day before he left office on Tuesday, 26th January 2021.”
The Army, however, flagged the report as “Fake News.”
But Okoroji who spoke in a chat with our correspondent, argued that it was not enough for the army to tag the report as fake news. According to him, the Army has so far, failed to account for the soldiers.
“I ask that a thorough investigation be carried out to ascertain what actually happened. You know, for every smoke there must be fire somewhere. What the Nigerian Army has not done is to account for those soldiers,” Okoroji said.
“If they said that they have not executed them, they should tell us where they are. It should be known; it should not be a secret. We are not in a war situation, so there can’t be any such thing as war secret.
“If those soldiers were said to have committed any offence under the military law, they should tell the world what those offences are, which tribunal tried them; is trying them or is going to try them. The names of the soldiers are known. Their origins are known. Their religious inclinations are known. Their ethnic groups are known; all of which may suggest some conspiracy, some targeting of some sort, of these soldiers.”
Okoroji encouraged the press to conduct investigation into the matter, noting that he may consider instituting court action to compel the military authority to come out with the truth.
“It is important that the Nigerian press puts pressure on the military to make this important disclosure, otherwise who knows what is next,” he said.
“What is happening in Nigeria under President Buhari is not very different from what happened in Uganda under Idi Amin; where people and soldiers of a particular ethnic group were targeted. I am not oblivious of the fact that there are a lot of discriminations in the Nigerian army.
“What is important is that the story is not treated as a mere rumour. It must be taken very seriously, and in fact, we can approach the Federal High Court to seek an order of court to compel the Nigerian military to disclose the whereabouts of those soldiers.”