Okoroji

OBINNA EZUGWU

Lagos based constitutional lawyer and one time governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state, Bob Okey Okoroji, has appealed to the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma to work towards restoring peace in Imo, noting that extrajudicial killing of residents of the state by security agents is not acceptable.

Okoroji who made the appeal in a chat with our correspondent, regretted that Imo and the entire Eastern Nigeria is under military siege, accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of deliberately targeting the region under the guise of fighting members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Recall that days ago, global human rights body, Amnesty International said not less than 115 persons from the Southeast have been extrajudicially killed by Nigeria and security operatives between March and June, noting Nigerian security forces in response to attacks by separatists in the region, have committed a catalogue of human rights violations and crimes under international law, including sweeping mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment.

Amnesty which gave the account in a report titled ,’Nigeria: At least 115 people killed by security forces in four months in country’s Southeast,’ also said many of the victims were deposited at government hospitals in Imo and Abia states and that several hospital sources, who spoke to AI stressed that all the victims deposited by the police had bullet injuries.

The report added that at least 21 security personnel were killed in three months in Imo State.

However, accounts by organisations in the region have suggested that the number residents killed and stressed is much higher, and Okoroji who regretted that the practice has not ended, encouraged Uzodinma to talk to Buhari to end the military siege of the state.

“I want to respectfully all the the governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Hope Uzodinma to bring peace to Imo State. Imo State needs peace more than anything else. Imo people are not asking for too much; they are just asking for peace, they are asking for the redeployment of soldiers that have been deployed to the state to kill our young people,” Okoroji said.

“Imo is under military siege. That must be brought to a stop. The government of Imo State should urge Buhari and his acolytes to remove the military from Imo State. Imo is a secure state, it is a peaceful state that used to be one of the most peaceful states of the federation. It is the presence of the army and other security agencies who are busy abusing the rights of the people, abducting young men from their houses under the guise that they are IPOB and BSN without proof. They pick them up and they disappear; they are not taken to court, they are not charged for any offence.”

Okoroji pointed out that while random citizens are being picked and disappeared in Imo, Boko Haram terrorists who have killed thousands of Nigerians, including soldiers, are being pardoned and rehabilitated with public funds.

He said, “On a daily basis we have the same government patronizing Boko Haram and pampering herdsmen. They are paying them millions of naira in the the so-called reintegration programme. These are people we are not even sure are Nigerians. But they rehabilitate them and put some of them into Nigerian Army. Who does that?

“Buhari must realise that Nigeria is not his personal property. We are not even sure whether his interest is in Nigeria. His interest appears to be somewhere else maybe in Niger Republic, which he places above Nigerian interest.

“The federal government should end this military siege in Eastern Nigeria. Our people should not continue to bear the brunt of Buhari’s hatred. You can’t rule by intimidation; you can’t roll by oppression, you can’t rule by threat, you can’t rule by violence. Development and violence don’t go together.

“They are destroying lives; killing civilians. They are not even targeting the unknown gunmen committing crimes, they are just killing civilians. They kill innocent young men and tag them IPOB or ESN.

“They should go after the so-called unknown gunmen. I do not even think that those people are IPOB or ESN. They are perhaps a gang of hoodlums recruited by the government themselves to find an excuse to wreak havoc on Igbo land.

“It is important that this hypocrisy and this hatred for the Eastern region by the Buhari government come to an end; it is high time it came to an end. Buhari is doing the Eastern Region and in the entire Southern Nigeria a great disservice. No meaningful development, it has been crisis all the way in the past seven years. The country has known no peace. The economy has the nosedived; there is insecurity everywhere. Millions of people have been displaced in the north-east and north-west and the middle belt and there are killings in Eastern Nigeria, what end?”

Okoroji equally condemned attempts by President Buhari to impose grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen on states, noting that its an expansionist agenda that has since been decoded.

“The Fulani expansionist agenda has been decoded. They should understand that nobody is going to tolerate. People have become conscious. The open grazing policy should be thrown into the dustbin. It will never work. It is actually the cause of insecurity,” he said.

“It is important that those who are into private business should be the ones financing their businesses, not government seeking to seize and acquire indigenous peoples lands four vandals from Sahel who call themselves herdsmen.”