Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

•Say abducted female Army officer, not from Aku-Okigwe

•Demand probe into the invasion, killings by security forces

Ngozi James

The leadership of Umu Aku Forum, in the Aku-Okigwe community, Imo State in South East Nigeria, have condemned the invasion of the community by the Nigerian military following the alleged abduction of a female Army Officer, Lieutenant PP Johnson.

The Forum decried the wanton killings and destruction of properties in a scorched earth manner it descended on the whole community, which according to them is innocent of the alleged crime

The leaders, however, clarified that Lieutenant Johnson is neither from the Aku community nor was she abducted there, as claimed by the Nigerian Army in one of its press releases published in the national dailies on December 31, 2022.

The Forum further dismissed the claim by the Army that the mother, father, and grandmother of the officer are from the town and that she was purportedly visiting her grandmother at Aku-Okigwe, describing such claims. as ‘blatant falsehood saying she has no paternal or maternal affiliation to the Aku community.

This was contained in a press statement made available to Global the Medial on Tuesday and signed by Don Ifeanyichukwu Okereke Administrator, Umu Aku Forum and Deacon Mahakwe Ukaegbu President General, Aku Community Development Union (ACDU); and Hon. Obinna Okoye, Secretary General, Aku Community Development Union (ACDU).

The Nigerian Army had alleged that the female army officer, who was abducted on Monday, December 26, 2022, was visiting her grandmother in Aku-Okigwe in Okigwe LGA of the State, shortly after completion of her Cadet training and subsequent commissioning as a Lieutenant into the Nigerian Army.

It was on the strength of this notion that a horde of military personnel and other security agents invaded the Aku community in Okigwe LGA on Friday, December 30, 2022, tenably in search of the abducted officer. Reports indicate that rampaging security agents not only shot indiscriminately but plundered, and burnt several houses in the hitherto serene Aku community, located in Okigwe LGA of Imo state.

Okereke, further disputing the claims said, ” Without pointing fingers, the video of her abduction and dastardly treatment which was widely circulated online suggests she was abducted along the Ihube-Enugu expressway. According to a Vanguard Newspaper report, on January 1, 2023, Lt. Johnson was abducted at ‘’Mbaraukwa’’, her maternal home. There is no village, kindred, or place known as Mbaraukwa in Aku-Okigwe.

It therefore beggars’ belief why Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu tagged in his press release that she was kidnapped while visiting her grandmother at Aku-Okigwe?” He queried.

“Aku people are generally agrarian, peaceful, and law-abiding. Aku people are cognizant of their rich tradition and cultural heritage which amongst other things, forbids the mere thought of hurting an ‘NWA (grandchild) let alone dehumanizing or killing a grandchild. It is distasteful, an abomination. Children born and bred in the Aku community are aware that hurting/killing a “nwa-nwa” (grandchild) is an abomination in our clime.

“The dust is yet to settle, and people are yet to return home, but we understand that a few people may have been killed during the latest military bombardment of the Aku community. One of them is a young man named ‘’Sunday Ejishim’’ who was gruesomely shot dead by the rampaging government Security Forces (GSF). This is the umpteenth time that Government Security Forces (GSF) will be launching unrestrained, indiscriminate attacks, and burning of houses in the Aku community. Recall that a secondary school student, Miss Favour Okoronkwo was gunned down in her family house on November 13, 2022, while Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Orji, a father of seven children whose wife gave birth to twins not long ago, was shot dead on November 20, 2022, also in front of his house,” he cried.

Still missing: Lieutenant PP Johnson

Okereke pointed out that the ongoing indiscriminate military operation, extrajudicial killings, and barbaric human rights abuses on the Aku community negates the Nigerian Armed Forces Rules of Engagement (RoE), Code of Conduct, the principle of minimum force and proportionality which amongst other things stipulates that, “fire must be aimed and controlled and that indiscriminate firing is not permitted”.

“No doubt the security agencies can go about their operation, but their action must be intelligence-driven, they must use very minimal force, ensure there is no collateral damage, no indiscriminate burning of houses, nay, plundering,” he said.

The Forum called on the military hierarchy to cease further indiscriminate rampage and killing of innocent people in the Aku-Okigwe community. They called on the governor of Imo state to rein in the Imo state-backed security militia from sweeping attacks on innocent people and burning of houses.

The Forum called for an independent judicial inquiry and investigation into the vicious attack on the Aku community. They said the brutal action by security forces on Aku Community should not be swept under the carpet.

“This must not be like the case of ‘’unknown soldier’’. It must be investigated, and action taken against the masterminds,” the statement stressed

“We ask for compensation as a result of the loss of lives and unimaginable financial losses incurred as a result of the military action on Aku-Okigwe community,” it.

Read full statement:

Re: ‘’Abducted officer not yet rescued; search effort ongoing – Nigerian Army’’

Setting The Record Straight

Our attention has been brought to an erroneous and misleading press release on published on Guardian Newspaper, December 31, 2022 and on other media platforms by the Nigerian Army spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu claiming inter-alia, that ‘’Lieutenant PP Johnson, a female army officer, was abducted on Monday, December 26, 2022, while visiting her grandmother in Aku-Okigwe in Imo State, shortly after completion of her Cadet training and subsequent commissioning as a Lieutenant into the Nigerian Army’’.

Apparently, it was on the strength of this false notion that a horde of military personnel and other security agents invaded Aku community in Okigwe LGA on Friday, December 30, 2022, tenably in search of the abducted officer. Reports indicate that rampaging security agents not only shot indiscriminately but plundered, burnt several houses in the hitherto serene Aku community, located in Okigwe LGA of Imo state.

Figure 1: Mr. Sunday Ejishim shot dead; properties destroyed by GSF who invaded Aku community, Okigwe LGA

We clarify and explicitly state inter-alia that:

  1. For the avoidance of doubt, we DO NOT condone nor hold a brief for non-state actors in whatever guise. We wholeheartedly condemn the pervasive, sporadic criminality within Okigwe environ, including the intermittent kidnappings attributed to so-called ‘herdsmen’, and more specifically the abduction and dehumanizing treatment meted out to Lieutenant PP Johnson.
  • Army officer, Lieutenant PP Johnson is NOT from Aku community neither is her mother, father, grandmother from Aku-Okigwe as incorrectly claimed in aforesaid press release. It follows that the claim of her purportedly visiting her grandmother at Aku-Okigwe is blatant FALSEHOOD as she has no paternal or maternal affiliation to Aku community.
  • Lieutenant PP Johnson was not abducted in Aku community. Without pointing fingers, the video of her abduction and dastardly treatment which was widely circulated online suggests she was abducted along the Ihube-Enugu expressway. According to Vanguard Newspaper report, January 1, 2023, Lt. Johnson was abducted at ‘’Mbaraukwa’’, her maternal home. There is no village, kindred or place known as Mbaraukwa in Aku-Okigwe. It therefore beggars belief why Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu tagged in his press release that she was kidnapped while visiting her grandmother at Aku-Okigwe?
  • Aku people are generally agrarian, peaceful, and law-abiding. Aku people are cognizant of their rich tradition and cultural heritage which amongst other things, forbids the mere thought of hurting a ‘nwa nwa’ (grandchild) let alone dehumanizing or killing a grandchild. It is a distasteful, an abomination. Children born and bred in Aku community are aware that hurting/killing a nwa nwa (grandchild) is an abomination in our clime.
  • The dust is yet to settle, and people are yet to return home, but we understand that a few people may have been killed during the latest military bombardment of Aku community. One of them is a young man named ‘’Sunday Ejishim’’ who was gruesomely shot dead by the rampaging government security forces (GSF). This is the umpteenth time that Government Security Forces (GSF) will be launching unrestrained, indiscriminate attack, and burning of houses on Aku community. Recall that a secondary school student, Miss Favour Okoronkwo was gunned down in her family house on November 13, 2022 while Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Orji, a father of seven children whose wife gave birth to twins not long ago, was shot dead on November 20, 2022, also in front of his house.
  • The ongoing indiscriminate military operation, extrajudicial killings, and barbaric human rights abuses on Aku community negates the Nigerian Armed Forces Rules of Engagement (RoE), Code of Conduct, the principle of minimum force and proportionality which amongst other things stipulates that, “fire must be aimed and controlled and that indiscriminate firing is not permitted”. No doubt the security agencies can go about their operation, but their action must be intelligence-driven, they must use very minimal force, ensure there is no collateral damage, no indiscriminate burning of houses, nay, plundering.

Figure 2: Ifeanyichukwu Orji shot dead in Aku community, Okigwe LGA, by government security forces_20th November 2022

Our prayers:

  1. We call upon the military hierarchy to cease further indiscriminate rampage, killing of innocent people in Aku-Okigwe community. We call upon the governor of Imo state to rein in the Imo state-backed security militia from sweeping attacks on innocent people and burning of houses.
  • We call for an independent judicial inquiry and investigation into the vicious attack on Aku community. The brutal action by security forces on Aku Community in Okigwe LGA must not be swept under the carpet. This must not be like the case of ‘’unknown soldier’’. It must be investigated, and action taken against the masterminds.
  • We ask for compensation as a result of the loss of lives and unimaginable financial losses incurred as a result of the military action on Aku-Okigwe community.

E-signed:

Deacon Mahakwe Ukaegbu

President General, Aku Community Development Union (ACDU)

January 02, 2023

Hon. Obinna Okoye

Secretary General, Aku Community Development Union (ACDU)

January 02, 2022

Don Ifeanyichukwu Okereke

Administrator, Umu Aku Forum

January 02, 2023

CC:

President Muhammadu Buhari

Governor Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma

Senator representing Okigwe North, Senator Frank Ibezim

Member Representing Okigwe North, Hon. Princess Miriam Onuoha

Member Representing Okigwe, Imo House of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Ogbunikpa

Chief of Army Staff

Chief of Civil Military Affairs

Nigerian Army Human Rights Desk. Email: na.hrd@army.mil.ng.

Access to justice

Advocates San Frontiers

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Amnesty International

Brekete Family

CLEEN Foundation

Federation of International Female Lawyers

Femi Falana Chambers

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

International Federation for Human Rights

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)

NOPRIN Foundation

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Socio Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP)

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United Nations Human Rights Council

West African Bar Association (WABA)

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