BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES
President Muhammadu Buhari has put the figure of casualties from the #EndSars protests at 69, but some people doubt the accuracy of this figure, given reports of alleged secret killings in some communities, where members of the Armed Forces were killed by some criminals masquerading as protesters.
About three military men, one of them, a native of Ohoba in the oil rich Ohaji-Egbema LGA of the State. Confirming his death, Mr. Okpor Dominic, a public servant who hails from the area wrote on his Facebook; “… Having served in the Northeast for five years, unfortunately, you were mauled down in your home State, last night on official duty at the Military Checkpoint near Nwaorieubi, Mbaitoli.” Onyema Pekah, the slain military officer is one of the three confirmed military casualties, including an Airforce personnel who was killed by hoodlums in Anara, Isiala-Mbano LGA of the State.
The protests in Imo had been adjudged as one of the most peaceful and best organized in the country, before the governor who accused the opposition in the State of attempts to hijack the protest in order to disturb the peace of the State, imposed a 24 hours indefinite curfew in the State. The imposition of the curfew is seen to have triggered a descent into chaos, as the genuine protestors retreated while hooligans took over the streets, leaving deaths, losses and smouldering edifices, including four police divisional headquarters on their trail.
In what is a rewind of Nigeria’s dark days of military dictatorship, the military were promptly deployed to the streets purportedly to restore orderliness. But which sensible democracy sees the deployment of the military as a first line of response in a civil unrest, especially, when it is established that some of their own had fallen in the hands of untamed hooligans? The error in this judgement didn’t take time to manifest, as, instead of restoring calm, they ignited restlessness, fear and even more deaths.
In a series of Facebook posts by Ayozie Paschal Project-p, an indigene of Mbaitoli, he directly fingered the military boys as responsible for the unexplained shootings of many unarmed youths in his area. He particularly identified one Chiedozie Onwumere, 21, and his friend Chisom Onyeagugbo, as direct victims of the Army’s extrajudicial killings in Mbaitoli.
According to him, the late Chiedozie had sustained a gun shot injury and was still alive when Chisom, his friend, in an attempt to save his life, took him to the health center close to the community where the shooting happened. Curiously, at the time the corpses of both Chiedozie and Chisom, were identified at the morgue of the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, Chiedozie has extra four gunshots to his back.
Also in Umuna, a community in Orlu LGA of the State, some community members have expressed concerns over the sudden disappearances of a number of their youths.
An eyewitness who prefers to remain anonymous told me that the military invaded the community and other adjoining communities after the LGA secretariat was set ablaze by some hoodlums, and requested to know some of the ‘bad boys’ in the communities. He believes that those identified as ‘troublemakers’ or suspected to have the tendency to perpetrate violence were “wasted and their bodies taken away”.
Also, Onyinyechi Ugwuegbu, a.k.a Vulture, who hailed from Amawuihe, Ubomiri, Evangeline Opara, from Ofekata Orodo, Augustine Mkporogwu, a.k.a, Idowu, from Ofekata Orodo and Godwin Agomuo, who was with the State Universal Education Board are among those whose whereabouts are yet to be determined, following the invasion of the military to Ubomiri and Nwaorieubi communities in Mbaitoli LGA of Imo State.
While family members who cannot account for their relatives are visiting hospitals and morgues in search of their missing relatives, government officials and security agencies are encouraged to release information on those that might be in their custody, so that many families traumatized by the disapearance of their relatives can have some peace. The judicial panel of Inquiry recently empanelled by the governor is expected to expedite its investigations, and especially, determine who authorized these killings and who actually carried out the killings, and if there were no killings, determine what happened to these Imo sons and daughters.
May Nigeria Prevail!