The Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has lamented the ongoing mass arrests of innocent Igbo youths in Owerri, the Imo State capital by the Nigerian Army.
Ohanaeze, in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, said there are indications that “the military personnel, suspected to be led by the 34 Artillery Brigade, Owerri since Sunday have been arresting male residents and youths, particularly in Oguta and Ohaji communities and packing them into vans and taken to unknown destinations.”
Ohanaeze is also raising alarm over reports of raids, discreet searches and arrests of youths and residents who the army only suspect to have links with the IPOB and ESN.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor said although it is unequivocal about the use of firearms by unauthorized persons, bodies or groups, democracy, all over the world vests the absolute authority for the legitimate use of force in government.
“We had admonished that the exclusive indulgence of AK 47 to the Fulani herdsmen as canvassed by Governor Bala Mohammed is antithetical to the ethos of a decent society,” the group added.
“For the armed forces to arrest the Igbo youths without evidence of arms, means of violence or crime is cowardly, uncivilized and mostly unacceptable to Ohanaeze Ndigbo,” it said.
Ohanaeze said the arrests and actions of the military in Imo State, runs contrary to every sense of natural justice and rights of citizenship.
The apex Igbo organization said the army is adding salt to injury by invading Igbo communities in search of youths most of whom are brilliant university graduates whose society has denied employment and a sense of belonging.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not just wax lyrical about Igbo youths of all categories or dispositions. We condemn crime irrespective of the source.
“On the other hand, we stand on a firm wicket that it is ruthless to arrest any Igbo in the guise of membership of a terrorist organization unless there is sufficient evidence of a crime or unlawful possession of firearms.
“We call on the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru to urgently stop the wave of arrests before it gives impetus to the proposal by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to offer asylum to a person who actively and openly supports IPOB and likely to be at risk of arrest or detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution.”
Recall that the immediate past Inspector General of Police, ex-IGP, Mohammed Adamu, had, without forensic investigations, accused members of the IPOB and ESN of having perpetrated the dastardly attack on Imo State Prison and Police Headquarters.
Before the attack, the army had also carried out airstrikes in Orlu Local Government Area of the state all in the name of fishing out members of the ESN.