The May 30 Biafran Remembrance Day which the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) marked on Monday with a sit-at-home order for all Southeasterners met some residents who were victims of police and military raids in detention.
SaharaReporters profiles some of the residents who were raided by the police and the army, labelled and paraded as belonging to IPOB or its militant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
A report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a civil society and research group detailed some of the accounts of these victims of army and police harassment and provided their photographs exclusively also to SaharaReporters.
The civil society noted that in the past one week, “not less than 30 open and secret killings by soldiers and police had taken place with most in Imo State where scores of corpses have been freshly traced to the mortuaries of the government medical centres.”
Among the many unarmed citizens who were raided as IPOB and ESN suspects are: one, Eze Avurum, 64; his cousin, Dominic Ekechukwu, and his daughter.
SaharaReporters learnt that they all were raided from Umuneke-nta, Ugiri in Isiala Mbano, Imo State on May 12, by soldiers of 144 Battalion of 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Ohafia.
Eze Awurum was publicly paraded hours later by the army and labelled as the “ESN second-in-command”.
The residence of Dominic Ekechukwu was also burnt down. Till now, both Awurum and Ekechukwu have remained in the military detention at the Abacha (Mogadishu) Barracks in Abuja.
“Contrary to the army’s claims, Mr. Eze Awurum was framed up by his community’s traditional ruler (Eze Onyenagbaru) over a dispute involving a parcel of ancestral land leading to him being abducted and framed as “ESN second-in-command,” the Intersociety report said.
Two, John Chinonso, 24; he is from Nchoko Dikenafai Community in Ideato South, Imo State and lived at Apiti Street by Hardel Junction, Orji-Uratta in Owerri North, Imo State.
He is an orphan living with his elder brother. Chinoso owns and manages DaddyFresh Barbing Salon at Ogboru Umuchoke by Hardel Bus Stop, Uratta.
He had responded to his elder brother’s call for him to close his shop and return home before dawn owing to precarious security situation in Owerri and environs and as he was going home in the evening of Tuesday, May 25, the police patrol personnel blocked and arrested him at gunpoint.
According to Intersociety, Chinonso was the same evening paraded alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums who attempted to burn down Orji Police Station.”
Three, Chukwudi Okoro, 29; he is a shuttle bus transporter plying the Owerri-Orji route with his apprentice. He is from Akabo-Amata in Orji, near Owerri, Imo State.
His wife, Chioma, is seven months pregnant.
He and his apprentice were heading home on May 25, having closed early as a result of the precarious security situation in Owerri and environs when they sighted police patrol personnel shooting indiscriminately around Orji and its environs.
In the end, police patrol personnel blocked and arrested both of them at gunpoint. He was paraded the same evening alongside four others as “ESN hoodlums that attempted to burn down Orji Police Station.”
Another was Casmir Ibegbulem, 40 years old. He is a father of one, expectant father of another and a “Permit Holder” staff of an oil company at Bonny Island in Bayelsa State and a native of Ogwa Community in Mbaitoli, Imo State.
Ibegbulem returned for the burial of his in-law, which took place on May 28. He was in Owerri on 25th to pick up personal items needed when police patrol personnel bounced on him at gunpoint and arrested him.
He was paraded the same evening alongside four others. Ibegbulem is married to Onyekachi who is seven months pregnant.
Alozie Daberechi and Chigaemezu Sabastine are Owerri-based traders and indigenes of Imo State. The two were arrested by police patrol operatives on their way home in the early evening of Tuesday, May 25. They were paraded the same evening.
Smith Amadikwa; he is husband to Ebere Amadikwa, a former leader of the Obowo Local Government Legislative Council under former Governor Rochas Okorocha and they reside at Umuagu Seven & Half Junction, Obowo.
According to his wife, Smith Amadikwa has been arrested and detained since May 12. He was said to be with his wife and trying to catch up with an appointment at Owerri Shoprite/ Samsung when he was arrested by the Imo State Police Command.
His wife waited for him in their car to join her back home but the long wait was futile.
He was among the names labelled “ESN hoodlums that attacked Imo State Prison Headquarters” by the Imo State Police Command on May 28.
“In all these, we have received over 100 phone calls and messages from members of the public testifying in favour of the abducted and slain citizens named above. Intersociety hereby calls on the Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Army to immediately and unconditionally release all the citizens arrested illegally.
“We urge them to desist from perpetration of frame-ups and trumped-up allegations or charges, abductions and disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other forms of genocidal operations going on in the South-East,” Intersociety added.