… as soldiers attack in five helicopter gunships
A resident of Orsu-ihiteukwa in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State has narrated in detail how the military invaded his community in five helicopter gunships and bombarded it.
The resident wishes to remain anonymous over fear that the military will come after him and his family members.
He said that the helicopters carried out bombardment in September 2022, but this latest attack happens this Easter Sunday.
The complainant, who desperately wants the situation to be checked, reached out to Human Rights Observatory.
Below is the narration of the resident…
“The military in their usual manner invaded my community Orsu-ihiteukwa yesterday morning, went to our ancestral market Ekeututu International Market and break into shops owned by individual traders and businessmen and women, looted and set them ablaze the same day.
“They were shooting sporadically which saw people running away for their dear lives, some who went to church almost got trapped inside the church as they could not leave for fear of being killed.
“This is one operation too many that has been going on in my community and little or nothing has been heard about it.
“Last September precisely on the 17th of September 2022, the same military with heavy arms and ammunition together with five helicopter gunships invaded our ancestral market Ekeututu International Market and bombarded it with heavy artillery claiming to be fighting insurgents who were purported to be producing IEDs at the Market Square.
“Many innocent traders lost their goods and shops and to date, the Imo State Government which admitted there were collateral damages and that those who suffered losses will be compensated has done nothing, leaving many homes without any means of livelihood.
“But following the large outcry the senseless and unprofessional operation attracted, the state actors stopped attacking our people for some time, but recently the attack appears to have resumed.
“Earlier last month people living in houses and shops were set ablaze including vehicles in the community including Ekeututu International Market and its environs.
“This method of operation by the military is anything other than fight against banditry and insurgence. How can the military be destroying people’s homes and businesses including the lives of innocent people and looting goods and property and they tag it to fight against banditry and insurgence?
“We have always said that we are not against fighting insurgents but in doing so we expect the military to act professionally and observe the rules of engagement. The situation where the military kill, loots, and destroys lives and property at will is unacceptable.
“ Imagine a military operation carried out on the day of resurrection of Christ is being celebrated in a predominantly Christian community is, to say the least, east a sacrilege.
“So, please we are facing an existential crisis and threat and we need the whole world to hear about it. This story is verifiable, it’s not fake, it’s not propaganda nor a scam. I personally have suffered losses both in human and material worth.
“We need this to stop and it’s largely because nothing is heard about the military atrocities committed in Orsu-ihiteukwa in particular and Orsu LGA, in general, that is why the act is ongoing.
“Even as I text, the military is still in my community Orsu-ihiteukwa since yesterday. Many have fled the communities in Orsu LGA of Imo state for their dear lives leaving the whole place a ghost town, yet the military is not relenting, they want to annihilate and wipe us out of the surface of mother earth. I do not know what sins our people have committed to going through all this.
“Please I want your organisation to come to our aid by giving this story-wide publication so those who do not know the degree of what is happening in Orsu will know and help us talk to the authorities to do the needful.
“Please sir we are going through a lot, we now bury our dead in the city, celebrate traditional marriages in the cities as well as other functions that ought to be observed in the village all due to insecurity. We cannot continue like this, since over two years now, we have not known peace.
“Please help us, we are dying, our communities are going underground, and life no longer has meaning in our communities. The world needs to know what is happening to the people of Orsu-ihiteukwa community and Orsu LGA in general.”
An observer noted: “I wish to observe that the issues raised here are a very serious issue that constitutes a serious threat, not only to the existence of that section of Imo state but to the entire democracy and civic space in Nigeria, because, if not urgently and comprehensively addressed can escalate beyond the boundary of Imo state in that the kind of Army personnel in Imo and their back-ups in other climes will emulate them and employ that as an easy way of intimidating, depriving and extorting the citizens and their perceived enemies if those in Imo have their way unchallenged.
“However, for there to be effective handling of this kind of matter, the victims and the community involved must come out more open and boldly raise serious complaints against the perpetrators through a duly signed petition addressed to either, the Human Rights Community in Nigeria and or National Human Rights Commission.
“In the envisaged petition, videos and pictures of the destructions and other damages will be attached where available.
“Based on this petition, we as a coalition of human rights defenders/CSOs will take it up by writing to the appropriate authorities in Nigeria including the Chief of Army Staff, National Human Rights Commission, appropriate Committees of National Assembly, copying the President of Federal Republic Nigeria, heads of two arms of National Assembly, and also raising a petition to the African and UN Commission on Human Rights, Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Nigeria raising serious issues against Nigeria army personnel regarding the issue and calling for urgent investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators and demanding for compensation for the victims and the communities affected.
“Our joint petition will be escalated through the media. We will follow it up by monitoring responses and doing a review after two weeks of our petitions.
“This, in my view is one of the ways of dealing decisively with this kind of matter. By the time we follow up this matter to a logical end the perpetrators will suffer some appropriate sanctions and the communities and the people of Imo state and other people suffering such intimidation actions of security personnel will have their freedom and dignity restored and preserved.”BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis