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Killing of soldiers in Aba barbaric and unacceptable, says FENRAD

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Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), a pro-democracy and environmental rights group, has condemned the killing of five soldiers in Aba, the economic hub of Abia State.

Newsband had reported that members of the Eastern Security Network on Thursday launched vicious attack on military personnel at Obikabia area of Abia State.

The gunmen numbering over 20 said to be enforcing the May 30th sit-at-home announced by the Indigenous People Of Biafra to commemorate Biafra heroes and heroines day, killed the military operatives and set their operational van ablaze.

However, FENRAD in a statement by its executive director, comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor condemned the killing of these soldiers. It declared support for any lawful initiative capable of bringing to book the perpetrators of the wicked act.

Speaking further in the statement, the advocacy group expressed disapproval over the reported cases of torture, illegal mass arrest, unlawful detention, invasion of homes and hotels, and enforced disappearances allegedly being masterminded by the military.

FENRAD in the statement said, “On Thursday, May 30, 2024, five personnel of the Nigeria Army (NA) deployed to Obikabia Junction, in enforcement of Operation Udo Ka were gruesomely assassinated by unknown gunmen. To Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group based in Abia State, the senseless murder is condemnable, unacceptable and barbaric in all its entirety as those killed in peacetime have families, friends and loved ones. This has no place in humanity!

“This despicable act is trending worrisomely in Abia, because in the last couple of months alone, there have been strings of coordinated attacks and murder suffered by the military at various posts.

“The Foundation kept alerting the state on this, calling for improved civil-military relations, intelligence gathering and deployment of Street cameras and CCTV to all military posts in the state. The latest and the most lamentable of these attacks was the one at Obikabia, whose aftermath resulted in panic, stampede, injuries, disinformation, breach of the peace, reprisal and near collapse of lawfully constituted authority.

“As stated earlier, there is no justification whatsoever for the incident of May 30. The Foundation, once again, calls for improvement in intelligence to preempt and ward off any likely future occurrence, as it sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the slain soldiers who died on active service, the Nigeria Army, and the entire security community in the nation.

“Having stated the above, while the Foundation condemns the killing of these innocent soldiers and supports any lawful initiative capable of bringing to book the perpetrators of the dastardly act, it also frowns upon the incidences of torture, illegal mass arrest, unlawful detention, invasion of homes and hotels, and enforced disappearances allegedly being perpetrated by the military.

“The Punch online of June 1, 2024 painted the gory picture using the story of Rose Agwu, a medical doctor who was on a night shift when her house in the Obikabia axis was invaded by the military with her siblings, including a 15-year-old, taken to an unknown destination by personnel of the Nigeria Army. Also were hotels and guest houses within the coordinates of Obikabia, the crime scene, invaded and residents and guests alleged to have been disappeared.

“FENRAD witnessed the forced closure of markets in Aba, like Ahịaọhụrụ, Cemetery Market, Ariaria International Market and other markets, though calm is gradually returning now. All through last weekend, Aba was under a belligerent occupation, even aerially.

“While justice to the slain soldiers is essential, key, and paramount, an overkill is an outright wrong, as is any countervalue military operation. Even in the law of war, there are rules of engagement as there is the notion of proportionality. The Foundation, therefore, calls on the military top brass to see to it that rules of engagement are adhered to.

“The Foundation also calls on Governor Alex Otti to see to it that calm returned to the state in the coming days as insecurity or heavy military action could be a driver of divestment. The Foundation urges the military and other security agencies to work in line with their constitutional mandate which is to protect the Nigerian territory and her diverse peoples thereof.

“In situations like this, street cultism usually rears its ugly head, with deaths harvested on the streets, if there was to be a security lull afterwards. 2020, following the hijack of the youth-led EndSARS Protests, was like that. If tension continues to escalate, it may place Abia under military jackboot, it may also place the state under an undeclared emergency. People now live in fear and would not come out to conduct their businesses. Markets are deserted as are the streets and churches. These restrictions, the Foundation says, could not be considered a win-win, not even the Nigeria Army that has borne heavy and high military costs in recent days or the people who live in fear.

“Once again, the Foundation condemns the killing of soldiers and calls for justice to those mourning and calm in the Enyimba city. The military should be professional so as not to go against the rules of engagement further”.

 

 

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