Nigerian Military’s Claim Of Killing ‘464 Criminals' In South-East In 2023 Confirms Suspected Disappearances Of Innocent Residents –Intersociety | #NwokeukwuMascot

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The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has faulted the Nigerian military's claims on the arrests of criminals nationwide in 2023 saying the figures by the military were questionable and inconsistent.

The human rights organization added that for example, the military claim of “killing 464 South-Easterners in 2023” only confirmed the “suspicions over indiscriminate killing or abduction and permanent disappearance of several hundreds of unarmed South-Easterners by the Military.”

Describing the military release as disappointing, Intersociety in a statement issued on Tuesday, said some figures released by the military were fraught with inconsistencies, contradictions, and unanswered questions.

On December 29, 2023, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, had announced that the military during various operations across the country in 2023 killed a total of 6,886 (including 464 in the South-East) terrorists and other suspected criminals.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Buba Edward, who had disclosed this in Abuja, while briefing journalists on the activities of the troops across the country in 2023, also said that a total of 6,970 suspects were arrested and 4,488 kidnapped citizens were rescued across the country.

However, Intersociety in the statement signed by its principal officers - Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chidinma Udegbunam, and Ositadinma Agu, said the statements were full of contradictions, adding that it was unprofessional and vexatious.

Intersociety observed that in its “killing 6,880 terrorists (including “464” in the South-East) and arresting 6,970” other “terrorists”, the Nigerian Military deliberately generalised by labelling the slain as “terrorists from across the country’s six geopolitical zones” including South-East where it claimed to have “neutralised (killed outside the law) 464 terrorists in 2023”.

"The Military statement had brazenly failed to categorise the number of slain citizens or arrested others involved in terrorism as statutorily defined and those involved in ‘street criminalities’ including statutory liability offenses (if any), misdemeanors and felonies; also as statutorily defined. The Military statement also failed to give a breakdown of the number and whereabouts of those “arrested” including whether they are still alive or have been tortured (including shot and wounded) or starved to death.

"The statement did not disclose further under what circumstances the “neutralised” got killed when and where they were killed whereabouts of the slain bodies and whether their families or lawyers (if any) were duly informed as statutorily laid out. No mention was also made regarding the number of the “6,970 arrested terrorists” undergoing court trials or facing prosecution by which department (s).

"Intersociety also makes bold to say that the Military’s claims of “killing 464 South-Easterners in 2023”; a failed attempt at false gallantry, has ended up exposing and confirming our deepest fears and suspicions over indiscriminate killing or abduction and permanent disappearance of several hundreds of unarmed South-Easterners by the Military and other security agencies including Police crack squads and DSS.

"This is to the extent that not less than 1000 of them are nowhere to be found in the just-ended 2023 including Ndefo Felix, Ani Izuchukwu, Odoh Friday, Chukwuka Raphael, Ikenna Chibueze, Hyacinth Ugwuike, Ozioma, Osita Udenze, Magnus Nnabuike, Chijioke Ali, Christopher Njenje, Emeka Okonkwor, Livinus Egbo, Okeke Uchenna, Ogbu Michael, Nweke Chukwuemeka, Obieze Ugochukwu, Chigozie Oghem, Chisom Nwizu, Ikechukwu Okoro, Chinedu Odenigbo, Chinedu Obiah, Chijioke Obama, Ogochukwu Nweke, Uchenna Oganama and Emmanuel Obinani abducted and disappeared from Anambra State alone.

"Placed in logic and critical thinking, the “464 neutralized South-East terrorists in 2023” is most likely correct to be “the Military’s casualty figure sampling from the South-East”. In other words, the mostly unarmed citizens’ military’s high death toll in the South-East in 2023 is most likely to be more than three times or over 1,600 if the number of those killed outside the law by police crack squads and those abducted and disappeared by the Military, the DSS and the Police crack squads is added.

"Strongly and unreservedly condemned is the Nigerian Military, DSS, and Police use of the genocidal word: “neutralize”. This is not only another attempt at false gallantry but also a speedy relapse into the abyss of the Stone Age defense and security operations and their modus operandi. We had expected the Nigerian Military to knowledgeably give Nigerians the statistical and factual breakdown of its “internal security operations” strictly within the confines of its constitutional, statutory, and operationally defined mandates and limitations thereto.

"Such internationally standardized policing statistics expected of the Nigerian Military in the instant case include the number of citizens arrested and handed over to the Police over their involvement in ‘street criminalities’ (.i.e. armed robbery, abduction-for-ransom, solid mineral theft, arson, burglary/housebreaking, vandalism, cybercrimes, political thuggery and assassination, civil murders, etc).

"Even though all of the above are clearly outside the formative and statutory mandates of the Nigerian Military, its personnel can spot any of them and make an arrest and immediately hand over to the Police with their preliminary findings for continuation of detailed investigation and prosecution or otherwise.

"It is also knowledgeably informed that the ‘Power of Arrest’ in Nigeria’s Statutes is given to every lawful citizen of Nigeria whether civilian or law enforcement officer. Intersociety is deeply shocked and dismayed at how the Military turned around to generalize all those it “killed” and “arrested” in the South-East as “South-East terrorists”.

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