In a scathing rebuke issued on Monday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has voiced profound dismay over the persistent and gruesome killings that have marred the Southeast region for over four years. The recent abduction and brutal murder of Eze Joe Ochulor, the paramount ruler of the Otulu community in Imo State, have highlighted the escalating violence, prompting HURIWA to call for immediate and decisive action.
HURIWA, a prominent human rights organization, presented compelling data revealing a disturbing surge in violence in the Southeast over the past four years. The organization cited a litany of incidents involving the killing of government officials, security personnel, and innocent civilians, portraying a grim picture of the deteriorating security situation.
The statement highlighted some of the notable victims in 2022 alone, including the killing of Kelvin Ezeoha, the Youth Leader of the APC in Enugu State, and the murder of Anthony Nwokorie, an INEC official, both underscoring the brutal nature of the attacks.
“Some notable victims of the senseless killings in just 2022 include Kelvin Ezeoha, the Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, who was killed during a meeting of APC members in January. Anthony Nwokorie, an INEC official conducting Continuous Voter Registration in Imo State, was killed by gunmen claiming to be Biafra agitators in April.
“The violence escalated with the abduction and beheading of Okechukwu Okoye, a serving lawmaker in the Anambra House of Assembly, and his aide, Cyril Chiegboka, in May. In June, former lawmaker Nelson Achukwu was beheaded after his family reportedly paid N15 million in ransom.
“Ebubeagu operatives, a security outfit backed by the Imo State Government, were implicated in the shooting deaths of seven youths in July, leading to public outrage and calls for disbandment. Governor Hope Uzodinma later claimed that State Security Service (SSS) operatives, not Ebubeagu, were responsible for the killings.
“The South-East also witnessed the killing of Henry Chukwu, a bodyguard of PDP governorship candidate Ifeanyi Odii, in August, and the murder of Lucky Idoko, the APC youth leader in Enugu State, in October. The attack on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s convoy in September resulted in the deaths of two police officers and three civilians.
“In November, traditional ruler Ignatius Asor was killed by suspected IPOB members who invaded his community. Former commissioner Gab Onuzuike was shot dead in November, and in December, Labour Party candidate Christopher Elehu was killed during a home invasion.”
The organization expressed shock and disappointment at the perceived failure of the state to protect its citizens and address the root causes of the violence. It stressed that the incessant killings not only pose a grave threat to the lives of the Igbo people but also impede the economic advancement and social stability of the region.
Despite alarming statistics and ongoing bloodshed, HURIWA noted a lack of sustainable solutions and called on the government to take decisive actions to protect citizens, investigate recent crimes, and bring perpetrators to justice. HURIWA lamented the absence of leadership in facilitating lasting reconciliation in the Southeast and emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach that addresses both security measures and the underlying issues fueling the violence.
The association underscored the urgency of restoring peace and stability, calling on the government to prioritize the safety and well-being of the people.
HURIWA urged immediate and concrete steps to end the cycle of violence, protect citizens’ rights, and create an environment conducive to development and peace. The organization expressed commitment to collaborative efforts with all stakeholders to address the complex challenges facing the region and restore hope to affected communities.
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