SPACES FOR CHANGE strongly condemns the killings at Nwaorieubi, Mbaitolu in Imo State in a reprisal attack by officers of the 34 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, which allegedly resulted in the death of 6 Imo indigenes on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The dead and the injured are mostly women, girls and young men. These killings are senseless, unjustified and totally unlawful.
Eye witnesses told SPACES FOR CHANGE that in the heat of the civil unrests that accompanied the #EndSARS nationwide protests on Wednesday, October 21, a group of unidentified hoodlums, driving in a white Toyota Hiace Bus shot an unnamed police escort at Eziama Junction, Orodo. The group moved from Orodo to Nwaorieubi Police Division at Mbaitoli LGA Headquarters where they shot sporadically in the air and also set two blocks of police residential quarters ablaze. The hoodlums moved on to the military checkpoint at Ubomiri, where they also engaged the soldiers in a gun duel. Unfortunately, Corporal Godwin Elkana of the Nigerian police force and two soldiers—Sergeant Onyema and Sergeant Clark—lost their lives, while others escaped. After the attack, the group escaped through Orlu Road.
Hours after the group bolted, heavily armed men of the Nigeria Army regrouped and returned to Mbaitoli in what seemed to be a reprisal attack and started raiding communities around Nwaorieubi vicinity- Awo Mbieri, Amawuihe Ubomiri, Ifakala, and Orodo axis. Chanting war songs proclaiming that the life of one soldier is equal to the life of 40 civilians, they fired live ammunitions at everybody and everything in sight, unleashing terror of unimaginable proportions in the community. Video clips of these incidents can be accessed here. Fleeing residents that were felled and injured by the bullets include:
- 21-year-old Chiedozie Onwumere (male) was shot at close range.
- Chisom Onyeagubo, who rushed to assist Chiedozie Onwumere was equally shot and both men died instantly. The soldiers zoomed off with their bodies. Mr Chisom Onyeagubo left behind, his 4 children and a pregnant wife.
- Godwin Agomuo, from Okpofe Ezinihitte Mbaise, was also killed in the incident. Until his death, Mr Godwin Agomuo, was the Director of Finance and Admin, IMSUBEB.
- Other casualties include Mr Obumneke Dioku from Umudurualoka, Ifakala was shot at and is currently hospitalized; Onyinyechi Ugwuegbu from Amawuihe Ubomiri; Evangeline Opara from Ofekata Orodo and Augustine Mkporogwu from Ofekata Orodo.
Since that dark Wednesday, Nwaorieubi residents have fled their homes, fearing further violent attacks by men of the Nigeria Army. In an interview with the elected representative of the Mbaitolu/Ikeduru federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Henry Nwawuba confirmed these tragic incidents. The federal lawmaker immediately contacted the Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Tukur, to halt further reprisal attacks.
Nwaorieubi communities are demanding justice for these senseless killings. SPACES FOR CHANGE is calling on the federal government, especially the Chief of Army Staff to investigate these killings and bring the perpetrators to justice. At a time Nigerians are calling on the government to halt police brutality and right historical injustices perpetrated by security operatives, the latest killings by the Nigerian Army reinforce the need for immediate reform of the entire security architecture in the country. We join Nwaorieubi communities to demand justice for the dead, the injured and for grieving families who lost their loved ones.