Nigerians of South East extraction residing in the United States of America have taken a swipe at the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, over his shoot-at-sight order to his men over the current insecurity challenges in the South East and South-South regions of the country.
The Igbo nation in the US, under the coordination of World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA) and Nzuko Umunna, described the order as callous and against the Rules of Engagement (ROE) and against the Geneva Convention.
In a statement jointly signed by Prof Anthony Ejiofor, Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze, Sir Ngozi Odumuko and Elder Amadiebube Mbama, of WIC, IWA, Nzuko Umunna and Coordinator of Joint Action Committee, respectively, Ndigbo in the US urged “the government to explore dialogue as an avenue to lasting peace in the regions and not a military-era shoot-at-sight order.”.
They further urged government “to embrace dialogue, engage with the people and leaders of these regions in order to assuage their grievances, which border on marginalisation and systemic discrimination.”
According to the statement, “Ndigbo in Diaspora condemn in strongest terms, the shoot-at-sight order given by the IG of Police and the military chiefs as part of their Rule of Engagements (ROE), which violates every fabric of Geneva convention on war crimes and on laws protecting civilians in conflict”.
Below is the full text of the state released by the Ndigbo in the United States of America;
“The Igbo Nation in the United States of America under the Coordination of World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA) and Nzuko Umunna reaffirms the bond and oneness of the Ndigbo in Diaspora and have resolved to act as the coordinating point of Ndigbo in the US. As an umbrella organisation that is not only vested in the interests of Ndigbo in the US but with deep roots in Nigeria, we are aware of sociocultural, economic and political developments in our fatherland.
To this end, we are not unaware of worsening security challenges in Nigeria and the concerted efforts by both state and non-state actors to arrest the situation. The country has witnessed how terrorism, killer herdsmen and banditry that have ravaged some parts of the north is gradually descending to the Southern part of the country, especially the South-east and South South regions–the Igbo heartland. But until recently, South-east was the most peaceful and stable region in Nigeria.
While this is troubling and a great source of concern for Nigerians in general and Ndigbo in particular, what is more worrisome is the posture of the Federal Government and response by the law enforcement agents to the situation. For some reasons that seems odious and ominous, the utterances from the Presidency, Government and law enforcement officials are laced with a desire to turn the region into a war zone rather than seek for its peace, stability and development. The worst case scenario was the latest comment credited to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Nigeria’s number one law enforcement officer was quoted to have said: “If anyone accuses you of human rights violation, the report will come to my table and you know what I will do. So, take the battle to them wherever they are and kill them all. Don’t wait for an order.” This statement if true, is a call for genocide, extrajudicial killings and human rights violations against people of the South East and South South regions.
We have waited to be sure that the Police boss was either misquoted or had a Freudian slip that would be denied but none of that was done. Not only are we shocked that the IGP Baba did not deny and disassociate himself from such murderous statement but we are equally surprised that the Presidency failed to call him to order and reassure the people of the zones who are already traumatised by such order that this is not case. We want to believe that this is not a state policy that continue to designate the old Eastern region as an occupied territory since the end of the Biafra-Nigerian civil war.
Against this backdrop, Ndigbo in Diaspora condemn in strongest terms, the shoot-at-sight order given by the IG of Police and the military chiefs as part of their Rule of Engagements (ROE), which violates every fabric of Geneva convention on war crimes and on laws protecting civilians in conflict.
Consequently, Ndigbo in the United States have commenced actions to hold the police chief to account and the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces for declaration of war on citizens of Nigeria, particularly in the South East and South South regions.
For emphasis, we want to bring the attention of the IGP, Service Chiefs and Presidency that the international conventions and international rules are not being followed in the latest rules of engagement for their operations in Igboland and therefore, constitute acts or intent to commit genocide.
As an organisation that believes in peace anchored on equity, fairness and justice, we urge the government to explore dialogue as an avenue to lasting peace in the regions and not a military-era shoot-at-sight order. We are asking the government to embrace dialogue, engage with the people and leaders of these regions in order to assuage their grievances, which border on marginalization and systemic discrimination.
We are also using this opportunity to inform the international community and human rights organizations that if the government and law enforcement agents continue with the bloodletting, then President Muhammadu Buhari and his service chiefs will have cases to answer at the International Criminal Court.