Juliana Francis

A group of over 20 civil society organisations in Nigeria has called for a thorough investigation of allegations linking personnel of the Nigeria military to kidnapping and the kidnapping of the prelate of the Methodist church of Nigeria, in Abia State, most Reverend Samuel Kanu-Uche.

The group, in a petition, said it was seriously concerned about growing insecurity, killings and allegations about the likely involvement of personnel of the armed forces in violent crimes.

It also said: “We are particularly concerned about increasing cases of kidnapping for ransom in the Okigwe axis of Abia State and the Southeast in general,” the group noted.

According to the group, its attention was drawn to the protest by the youths and people of Isuochi in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State demanding the removal of military checkpoints in the area since the presence of the military had not improved security in their area, rather seemed to provide cover for the criminals.


The said: “We are alarmed by the revelations from the prelate who was kidnapped along with his two colleagues and released after paying huge sums in ransom. But we are even more alarmed by the revelation from security sources and the victims themselves suggesting that the military are likely to be complicit in the increasing cases of crime in the Okigwe axis. We feel ashamed that the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who could not do anything and played no role in the release of the kidnapped clerics, could come out to shamelessly claim that the release of the kidnapped victims was by divine intervention. We call on the governor of Abia State to stand up to his responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state.”

It will be recalled that the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria had, upon his release by kidnappers, revealed information suggesting the complicity of military personnel in the region in kidnapping.

In one of the videos in circulation, a senior police officer, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP),  Commander of the Rapid Response Squad in Abia State, identified as Johnbull, expressed frustration at the role played by personnel of the Nigeria Army in sabotaging the efforts of security forces to combat kidnapping in that axis.

“We call on President Buhari to wake up and to order an investigation into this rather scandalous revelation. We also condemn the decision of the police hierarchy to subject the police officer to harassment or disciplinary action instead of acting on the intelligence information to improve their operations. We are further shocked by the revelation that the kidnappers said they were amassing arms with money realized as ransom, with a view to eventually unleashing mayhem and taking over Igboland. This also calls for urgent investigation on the orders of the President. The Nigeria Army, in a series of Tweets on their verified Twitter handle titled ‘Alleged Complicity by Soldiers in Bishop’s Kidnap Unsubstantiated’, have dismissed the allegations even before investigating the alleged role of their personnel. Conclusion on security issues must be based on intelligence and investigation,” the group said.

It opinioned that the huge presence of the military in the Southeast region ought to ordinarily ensure maximum security but instead, it seemed to be giving cover for criminals to enjoy free reign all over the region.

The group further called on the Nigeria Army to objectively investigate the weighty allegations against its personnel in the region rather than engaging in hasty denials and cover up.

The group added: “We suspect that the Prelate may be subject of reprisals or victimization for revealing what he heard from the kidnappers and his observations and experience from his ordeal. We call for protection for the Prelate and his colleagues. The primary duty of government is the security of lives and property. Therefore, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up to his duty as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to ensure that the growing security challenges are curtailed. We remain committed to constantly monitoring governance and upholding the rule of law and accountability of state officials and institutions to the people.”

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