Paschal Emeka, Abuja

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on Monday threatened to drag the Federal Government of Nigeria and the five governors in the Southeast geopolitical zone to the International Criminal Court in The Hague Netherlands over the rising killings and kidnappings in the zone.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, described the incidents in Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Abia as “crimes against humanity” which according to him, should be stopped forthwith.

The group said both federal and state governments are duty-bound to protect Nigerian citizens and should not be exposed to insecurity as prevalent in the Southeast in the last two years.

This is coming a day after gunmen kidnapped four reverend sisters of the Catholic Church along the dreaded and notorious Okigwe-Enugu expressway in Imo State whilst on their way for morning mass.

The four abducted reverend sisters include Benita Agu, Liberata Mbamalu, Johannes Nwodo, and Christabel Echemazu.

The development added to the growing number of such incidents in the Southeast which include the abduction of Catholic priests, and the Primate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria.

While some Catholic priests like Rev. Fr. Chinedu Nwadike, who was kidnapped along the same road last week made it out, his other colleagues have not been fortunate as they were killed by armed gunmen terrorizing the Southeeast zone under the guise of cattle grazing, commercial motorcycling, amongst other camouflage trades.

Commenting on the development, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The activities of armed Fulani terrorists in the Southeast and especially the rampant cases of armed kidnappings for ransom in Umulolo-Okigwe Road, Okigwe- Enugu Road in Lokpanta are worrisome.

“HURIWA condemns the abduction of four Revd sisters on Sunday morning while on their way to mass and the many kidnappings of Catholic priests in the Southeast and other parts of the country which show that the gunmen have specific targets in mind.

“Federal and state governments including security agencies like the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Army, and the Department of State Services must ensure the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted sisters who have done no wrong by being committed to their religious devotion.

“According to Section 14 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. The government must stop giving vain excuses and quit its relaxed and unconcerned posture and secure the people against gunmen aggression in whatever guise.

“HURIWA condemns the apparent inability of Southeast governors to galvanise armed forces to wipe off the menace of killings and kidnappings in the zone.

“The DSS and the regional security outfit called Ebubeagu must focus on what matters which is the security of the people and not them busy killing Igbo youths on the nebulous ground including the recent extrajudicial killing of 14 Igbo youths at Awo Omamma in the Oru East Local Government Area of Imo on July 17 whilst returning from a wedding. Again, we reiterate the need for justice on the massacre of the innocent and unarmed wedding guests as it appeared that the case has been swept under the carpets after initial protestations by many people and groups.

“Aside from the Awo Omamma killings, Ebubeagu officers on July 24 allegedly shot dead a student, Kelechi Ogbonna, in the Oguta LGA of Imo.

“Amnesty International captured the extrajudicial killings in the Southeast when it said at least 115 innocent persons were tagged ‘militants’ and killed by security forces between March and June 2021 in the five states in the zone.

“Also, a non-government organisation, Intersociety, alleged in January that state actors including police, soldiers, and DSS operatives, amongst others, killed about 1,400 residents and torched about 1,000 homes in 100 Southeast communities within 14 months.

“The kidnapping-for-ransom and killings by non-state actors including ‘unknown gunmen’, notorious Fulani herders, amongst others MUST STOP. The four abducted Revd sisters must be rescued with immediate effect. The security agencies must make this happen instantly having failed to man the dreaded road and protect motorists.

“Also, the extrajudicial killings of innocent and unarmed Igbo youths by security agents MUST stop. HURIWA has compiled evidence of crimes against humanity to be sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, against Southeast governments, the Federal Government and armed security forces

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