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How Buhari's ‘Shoot-On-Sight’ Order Contributed To Insecurity In South-East Nigeria, Says RULAAC

Posted by Samuel on Fri 29th Mar, 2024 -

RULAAC disclosed this during the presentation of a report titled “Unveiling the Roots of Insecurity, Healing the Wounds of Human Rights Violations in Southeast Nigeria: A Path Towards Peace, Open Democratic Space and a Prosperous Future."

Muhammadu Buhari

The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), a civic organization, asserts that the ongoing insecurity in South-East Nigeria should not be solely attributed to the secessionist groups advocating for the creation of the Biafra Nation.

RULAAC disclosed this during the presentation of a report titled “Unveiling the Roots of Insecurity, Healing the Wounds of Human Rights Violations in Southeast Nigeria: A Path Towards Peace, Open Democratic Space and a Prosperous Future."

The human rights group accused the Nigerian government of adopting a counterproductive approach in its fight against insecurity in the South-East region with a mindset to kill everything because of the ‘hatred’ of then-President Muhammadu Buhari towards the region.

In his remark during the unveiling of the report produced in partnership with Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS), the Executive Director of RULAAC, Comrade Okechukwu Nwanguma, explained that the report was intended to drive the true narrative about the nature, roots, patterns, dimensions and the effects of current government’s approach to tackling insecurity in the region.

He noted that one of the additional factors fueling the cycle of violence, as documented in the report, is the Nigerian government’s single-minded brute force and counterproductive approach to fighting insecurity in the zone.

According to him “the federal government is simply not interested in listening to the voices of reason in or about anything that concerns the Southeast development and peace”.

“It is not paying attention to the plight of the people and not interested in sincerely addressing or solving the problems of the people of the zone,”
he said.

He stated that rather than adopt a more open-minded approach, the federal government is driven by the mindset – as revealed by President Buhari during an interview in 2021- ‘’to speak to the people in the language that they understand,’’ adding that that was why the military would go into a community and burn it down because they are looking for secessionists, which in itself is not a crime.

Nwanguma further stated that while RULAAC acknowledges that pro-Biafra agitation and insurgency are significant contributors to insecurity in the South East, attributing the problem solely to these factors paints an incomplete picture.

He said, "RULAAC's findings paint a bleak picture of public security policies in the region, heavily reliant on repressive police and military action, often with excessive force.

“The report documents instances where the police in the Southeast have acted in compliance with reckless directives such as the ‘’shoot on sight’’ order by President Buhari in 2021 and the Inspector General of Police’s subsequent order on them to go after IPOB, kill them and not worry about shouts of human rights violation.

"The police embarked on indiscriminate mass raids and arrests, incommunicado detention, torture, public parade and executions of accused, mostly innocent persons.

“Not a few people of conscience were shocked to receive the information that no less than 107 citizens were indiscriminately arrested from different locations in Owerri, Imo State, labelled IPOB members and arraigned, not in any court, but at the car park of the Shell Camp Police Division, Owerri and later shifted to the Conference Hall of the Commissioner of Police, Imo State with some magistrates presiding.

"They were charged with offences of treason, including plots to overthrow President Buhari and Governor Hope Uzodinma and remanded at the Owerri prisons.

"The sheer number of persons arrested and arraigned in one day by the police in Imo State for purportedly conspiring to overthrow President Buhari and Governor Hope Uzodinma was outlandish. Police did not show what weapons with which the people, including women and children, were going to carry out the overthrow.

'That was nothing more than a malicious declaration of war against innocent and law-abiding residents of Imo State going about their legitimate businesses. It was a direct outcome of the Inspector General of Police's directive to Police Officers to take the war to IPOB and not to bother about observing the rules of engagement or be deterred by the media shouts of human rights violation.”

The chairman of the occasion, Prof Okey Ibeanu, who is the Regional Director (West Africa) at Ford Foundation, which provided financial support for the report, regretted that Southeast which used to be a bastion of peace had been turned into a theatre of war.

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