May 20, 2024
Disband Ebubeagu now, protect Imo citizens’ lives — S4C
Action Group on Free Civic Space concerned about dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel
– By Godswill Odiong

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By Our Correspondent
Spaces for Change, a non-profit organization working to infuse human rights into social and economic governance processes in Nigeria, has called for disbandment of the Ebubeagu local security outfit in Imo State, Nigeria.

The NGO accused the security outfit for allegedly killing seven young men in the area.

In a statement obtained by The Daily, www.thedaily-ng.com, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director, Spaces for Change, stated: “On 17 the July 2022, citizens of Otulu, Oru East Local Government, Imo State were plunged into yet another season of grief as seven young men allegedly lost their lives at the hands of the Ebubeagu local security outfit.

“The group was allegedly returning from a traditional marriage when men of the Ebubeagu vigilante group accosted them without reason and unjustifiably opened fire on them. Eyewitness accounts and Spaces for Change’s | S4C’s independent findings reliably confirm that seven persons lost their lives on the spot including two siblings, Ifechi and Emeka Ekesinachi.

“Further investigations revealed that the victims were unarmed and not involved in any form of unruly behavior at the time of their gruesome murder. Angered by this incident, the youth took to the streets to protest the killings and gross impunity by the vigilante group.

“Since the institution of the so-called Ebubeagu vigilante group in Imo state, a reign of terror has ensued, characterized by gross human rights abuse, extra-judicial killings, panic, fear and confusion. Testimonies abound from communities like Awonmama, Akatta, in Oru East Local Government Area; Umuoke, Atta, in Njaba Local Government Area; and Umutanze, Ihioma, Okporo in Orlu Local Government Area, of the chaos that has trailed the existence of the group. One of such is the alleged killing of a 22-year-old boy, Chigozie Igbo from Umuoke, Atta in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State.

“S4C strongly condemns the unlawful killing and human rights abuse of unarmed and defenseless citizens of Imo State by the so-called vigilante group. Over the last few years, there have been countless atrocities like kidnappings, extra-judicial killings and destruction of properties linked to the Ebubeagu vigilante group and others. S4C legal team is currently working with aggrieved families whose kin have fallen victim to these extra-judicial killings.

“One of such cases is that of Late Magnus Okoro and Late Chidozie Chukwu, both young mencut down in their prime by the Anti-kidnapping Squad of the State CID. It is unconscionable that the government whose primary duty is to provide maximum security to lives and properties would turn around to be the one terrorizing and unleashing continuous unprovoked attacks on citizens.

“We call on the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led Government of Imo State to live up to its responsibility of securing lives and properties of Imo citizens by disbanding the Ebubeagu vigilante group which has done more harm than good since its inception. The incessant killings and massive human rights violations resulting from the activities of Ebubeagu and other vigilante groups must stop.

“The festering security crisis in Imo will leave citizens with no other choice than to resort to self-help. Accordingly, we demand an independent inquiry into the activities of the so-called Ebubeagu vigilante group, ensuring that the perpetrators of crimes against humanity face the law. While setting up Judicial Commissions of Inquiry are welcome developments, it is deeply concerning that the recommendations of such quasi-judicial bodies in Imo have never been implemented.

“More specifically, both the recommendations of the #ENDSARS Judicial Commission and the just-concluded Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate security breaches in the state never saw the light of day. Justice for victims should neither be delayed nor compromised. We demand justice and nothing more. Immediately.”

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