Armed ViolenceNews

Oyigbo Killings: Military Must Quit Internal Security Operations

The continuous involvement of the military in Nigeria’s internal security portends danger for the country as the ongoing crisis in Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, south-south Nigeria has shown.

Justine Ijeoma, a human rights activist and Executive Director of Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation HURSDEF) said during an interview with HumAngle.

Ijoma maintains that the Federal Government should stop the use of the military for internal peacekeeping operations and must empower the police in light of the EndSARS protest demands to assume the role of maintaining law and order.

Ijoma told HumAngle that the recent killings by the military in Oyigbo could spark a bigger security challenge if the Federal Government failed to act appropriately.

“My advice to the government is that it will consume the government if it didn’t do anything and consume all of us also,” he said.

“What we are looking at is let the government address the issue. Bringing the military in an internal issue should totally stop. We can train our police to do that, they can do that.”

Amnesty International had on Sunday, November 2 raised the alarm that it received disturbing information that Nigerian soldiers had engaged in alleged extra-judicial killings in Oyigbo and called on the Army to stop the killings.

“We are calling on the military authorities to exercise restraint and stop the killings,” Amnesty International said.

Ijoma cautioned that the killing may lead to arm uprising against the government, citing the genesis of the Boko Haram insurgency.

“The length they are going now with this kind of killing it may result in them picking up arms to start to fight the government. Once that starts, the country will be totally devastated,” he warned.

“The Military for years has not been able to overcome some activities happening in the Northeast. In how many years, they have not been able to handle Boko Haram. Another one has started, they call it cattle rustlers. If these one rise, they would be too dangerous.”

He also called for a total change of all the Service Chiefs, noting that the nation’s military has been infiltrated.

“The military has been totally infiltrated and the leadership of the military should be changed. The entire military leadership in Nigeria should be changed. Let them bring in a fresh understanding.”

Ijoma insisted that the casualty figures from Oyigbo killings are far more than 35 being mentioned in the media, adding that some corpses were allegedly taken away while those who sustained bullet wounds died in the hospital receiving treatment.

“We don’t have the figure of the casualties totally, because some of the corpses were carried and some sustained bullet injuries they were being treated and some of them died in the hospital. The figure they are quoting of 35 is beyond that.”

Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State had on October 21 declared a 24-hour curfew in Oyigbo after a police station and other facilities were attacked by hoodlums. 

“Earlier today, some hoodlums attacked and destroyed Police Stations and Court buildings in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State. Another set of hooligans were also on a rampage at the Ikokwu spare parts markets disturbing public peace and damaging property,” he said.

Wike warned that the State Government won’t allow troublemakers to take laws into their own hands and use the protest period to commit anarchy.

He also declared N50 million bounty for Stanley Mgbere, a leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Rivers State. 

According to the governor,  Mgbere was “leading members of the banned IPOB to cause the recent violence and destruction of lives and property in Oyigbo Local Government Area (of the state).”

Residents have accused the army of extra-judicial killings after the state government said the proscribed members of the IPOB killed three policemen and six soldiers. 

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Yekeen Akinwale

Yekeen Akinwale is a multiple award-winning investigative journalist with over 17 years journalism experience across different newsrooms in Nigeria. He had previously worked at Leadership Newspaper, Nigerian Compass, New Telegraph and Freedom Newspaper. A graduate of Mass Communication, Akinwale was the Head of Newsroom at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) before joining HumAngle. He is passionate about investigative reporting, environment, climate change and developments. Akinwale is the 2018 Investigative Journalist of the Year for Diamond Media Award for Excellence (DAME) and 2019 Business Reporter of the Year for Nigeria Media Merit Award ((NMMA).

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