Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on Friday, alleged plot by the Nigerian security agencies to eliminate prominent Igbo personalities.
Kanu alleged that security agencies were plotting to eliminate these Igbo personalities and blame their killing on Eastern Security Network, ESN.
Speaking through the spokesman of IPOB, Emma Powerful, Kanu urged Igbo personalities to be wary of security operatives attached to them.
He assured prominent people of the Southeast that ESN had no intention of killing them.
A statement by Powerful reads: “IPOB ably led by our prophet and liberator Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has uncovered plot by Nigeria security agencies to eliminate prominent men and women, politicians and stakeholders in the whole of Biafraland and blame it on IPOB and the Eastern Security Network, ESN.
“Every politician in Biafraland must be wary of those officers assigned to them as police or army guarding them. ESN, IPOB has no plan to kill our own in Biafraland because we’re going to get Biafra together. It profits us nothing to kill our own despite the treachery by some of them.
“Our people must be careful because Fulani terrorists in Nigeria army and police uniforms are working tirelessly to ensure that Biafra businessmen, women and politicians are killed in order to pitch Biafrans against themselves and ultimately take undue advantage of the confusion to keep us in bondage.
“But we are smarter than all of them put together. IPOB is raising this alarm for the wise to apply wisdom and avoid being victims of this evil plot.
“Nigerian security agencies have instructed their officers attached to the politicians to start gradual elimination of Biafrans who they were assigned to protect. But we will resist this wicked plot.”
He also lamented that IPOB members and ESN operatives are being arrested by the Nigerian security.
“They are arresting and abducting innocent Biafrans suspected to be members of IPOB or operatives of ESN security outfit. They have arrested more than 68 innocent citizens and detained them at the State CID Awka, Anambra State. Unknown gunmen are doing their own attacks but Nigeria DSS has rather decided to blame ESN operatives and IPOB members instead of investigating to unravel the perpetrators.
“The incessant arrest and secret abductions of suspected IPOB members at Izombe, Agwa and other parts of Oguta and Ohaji Egbema cannot stop us from pursuing this freedom.
Just yesterday, they secretly abducted Obinna Nwuzi, the son of the man whose wife Olivia Nwuzi was abducted and detained in an anti-kidnapping station at Owerri Imo State. The boy just returned from Ebonyi State university to see his family but wicked Nigeria security personnel arrested him. His mother has also been detained for over three weeks now.
“We are warning them never to harm these innocent persons because if they do, they will regret their actions very soon,” he added.
When Gov Hope Uzodinma finally addressed Imo people Monday, he informed them that he got reports about the activities of militants in Orlu in the afternoon of that same day. In order to arrest the situation, according to him, a curfew became inevitable in the area. He therefore went ahead to impose a dusk to dawn curfew in ten out of the twelve local government areas that make up Orlu zone.
It is pressing to quickly point out two major shortcomings in the governor’s reaction, and indeed use them as a point of departure in understanding the Orlu situation. First, the governor said he heard about the conflagration on Monday. Meanwhile, for over two weeks, most members of some communities in Orlu, particularly Umutanze, have slept in the bushes during the nights, instead of their homes. Similarly, the overt escalation of hostilities, especially in Okporo community which the governor said he got to know on Monday, actually began in the early hours of Friday, the previous week.
Second, by describing the Orlu situation as militancy, the governor might have unknowingly created a new, wrong narrative that would culminate in the profiling of adult males in Orlu as simple militants. Terrorism, militancy, insurrection and freedom-fighting are all different concepts in political science, and one cannot be confused with the other. So, it is possible the governor does not get his daily security briefings or that he does not act on them.
What are the issues? For a long time, the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu has consistently told his listeners that a provision for settlement has been made in Orlu forests for Fulani herdsmen. He has also continued to allege that just as Orji Uzor Kalu did at Lokpanta in Umunneochi area of Abia state, Uzodinma has toed a similar path by allegedly giving the herdsmen a settlement in Orlu. Even though this claim has every likelihood to be false, for credible sources from Orlu have been unable to corroborate it, the Government of Imo State has been rather complacent to challenge such ostensible misinformation.
With the belief, or impression, or even delusion that Orlu might serve as a hub of the controversial RUGA program, Nnamdi Kanu reportedly deployed his newly launched Eastern Security Network (ESN) to the bushes and forests around Orlu to dislodge the herdsmen. In one of his broadcasts, Kanu boasted that he was crushing the herdsmen, and said he would not reveal further details about the triumphs of his men in the forests. The stage was set for violence.
A few weeks ago, a police vehicle was attacked by men of the ESN in Orlu. The attackers did a video of the scene, showing the vehicle they had captured. First, they queried the rationale for police to move into the bush to disturb them, and wondered why the police, which they alleged have not confronted the killer herdsmen, would choose to go after them (the ESN) in the bush.
Days later, reports of further clashes between security agents and men of the ESN began to ooze out up until last Friday that soldiers were reported to be in Orlu in search of the corpse of one of their allegedly fallen colleagues. A Sabbath Church in Okporo-Orlu which is said to serve as sanctuary for members of the IPOB and ESN was invaded and some persons reportedly arrested. Also, some buildings belonging to MASSOB were also razed. There was pandemonium. Security agents were shooting everywhere. People scampered for safety.
On Monday, early though, the increasing presence of security agents in Orlu suggested both restoration of security and looming tension. The latter became the case in mid morning when a convoy of vehicles conveying members of the ESN arrived and engaged the security agents in a gun battle. Casualties were recorded. The security agents pulled back. But before then, a fire had razed the Hausa quarters behind the Stadium, with unidentified corpses seen in its wake. Heavy shootings continued afterwards. Stray bullets got innocents, and some dropped dead. Reinforcements continued on both sides until the governor slammed a dusk to dawn curfew.
So, it is important for the government to engage the Orlu situation in a sustainable manner. Curfew, as a temporary measure to defuse tension, may be effective. But it cannot be sustained. First, the situation was never spontaneous. It was never militancy. It built up over the months. There was never some threat analysis by the government in the aftermath of the launch of the ESN. Intelligence failure was glaring. And the misinformation about RUGA in Orlu was never tackled. Before engaging the ESN in a battle in the bush, our security agencies should have been more circumspect. Trained in conventional warfare, they should have known that guerilla warfare which the ESN has adopted is never easily won, and in the end unarmed civilians pay more with their lives.
Statement of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria
Today, I announce the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria.
As I stated last year at the annual Assembly of States Parties, before I end my term as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”, I intend to reach determinations on all files that have been under preliminary examination under my tenure, as far as I am able. In that statement, I also indicated the high likelihood that several preliminary examinations would progress to the investigative stage. Following a thorough process, I can announce today that the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met.
Specifically, my Office has concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of Boko Haram and its splinter groups have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder; rape, sexual slavery, including forced pregnancy and forced marriage; enslavement; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed groups and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.
While my Office recognises that the vast majority of criminality within the situation is attributable to non-state actors, we have also found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces (“NSF”) have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; forcible transfer of population; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; unlawful imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.
These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by my Office, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. My Office will provide further details in our forthcoming annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities.
The preliminary examination has been lengthy not because of the findings on crimes – indeed, as early as 2013, the Office announced its findings on crimes in Nigeria, which have been updated regularly since. The duration of the preliminary examination, open since 2010, was due to the priority given by my Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting these crimes domestically.
It has always been my conviction that the goals of the Rome Statute are best served by States executing their own primary responsibility to ensure accountability at the national level. I have repeatedly stressed my aspiration for the ability of the Nigerian judicial system to address these alleged crimes. We have engaged in multiple missions to Nigeria to support national efforts, shared our own assessments, and invited the authorities to act. We have seen some efforts made by the prosecuting authorities in Nigeria to hold members of Boko Haram to account in recent years, primarily against low-level captured fighters for membership in a terrorist organisation. The military authorities have also informed me that they have examined, and dismissed, allegations against their own troops.
I have given ample time for these proceedings to progress, bearing in mind the overarching requirements of partnership and vigilance that must guide our approach to complementarity. However, our assessment is that none of these proceedings relate, even indirectly, to the forms of conduct or categories of persons that would likely form the focus of my investigations. And while this does not foreclose the possibility for the authorities to conduct relevant and genuine proceedings, it does mean that, as things stand, the requirements under the Statute are met for my Office to proceed.
Moving forward, the next step will be to request authorisation from the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open investigations. The Office faces a situation where several preliminary examinations have reached or are approaching the same stage, at a time when we remain gripped by operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, on the one hand, and by the limitations of our operational capacity due to overextended resources, on the other. This is also occurring in the context of the pressures the pandemic is placing on the global economy. Against this backdrop, in the immediate period ahead, we will need to take several strategic and operational decisions on the prioritisation of the Office’s workload, which also duly take into account the legitimate expectations of victims and affected communities as well as other stakeholders. This is a matter that I will also discuss with the incoming Prosecutor, once elected, as part of the transition discussions I intend to have. In the interim, my Office will continue to take the necessary measures to ensure the integrity of future investigations in relation to the situation in Nigeria.
The predicament we are confronted with due to capacity constraints underscores the clear mismatch between the resources afforded to my Office and the ever growing demands placed upon it. It is a situation that requires not only prioritization on behalf of the Office, to which we remain firmly committed, but also open and frank discussions with the Assembly of States Parties, and other stakeholders of the Rome Statute system, on the real resource needs of my Office in order to effectively execute its statutory mandate.
As we move towards the next steps concerning the situation in Nigeria, I count on the full support of the Nigerian authorities, as well as of the Assembly of States Parties more generally, on whose support the Court ultimately depends. And as we look ahead to future investigations in the independent and impartial exercise of our mandate, I also look forward to a constructive and collaborative exchange with the Government of Nigeria to determine how justice may best be served under the shared framework of complementary domestic and international action.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request). The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Colombia; Guinea; the Philippines; Ukraine; and Venezuela (I and II), while the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.