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Rights group raises alarm over military siege on Ohafia; laments killings, sack of communities

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The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), a human rights group has called on the operatives of the 14 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Ohafia, to stop the reckless killings and displacement of the residents of Amangwu and Ebem Ohafia in Abia State. The group questioned the invasion of Amangwu & Ebem Ohafia communities by the military.

FENRAD, in a statement on Monday, November 21, 2022, signed by its Executive Director, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, condemned the “barbaric attack which has led to loss of lives and property, by men of the Brigade who, FENRAD says, should be protecting the locals.

 

“It has come to the notice of FENRAD, a pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group, that the tension between Amangwu Ohafia and the Nigeria Army, 14 Brigade, is not letting up.

“The 14 Brigade, it should be known, is a military formation stationed at Ohafia (Ebem) where presently there is a growing concern regarding military-civilian relations. FENRAD also condemns out rightly the reported missing of a Nigerian soldier which resulted in the attack on Amangwu Ohafia by men of the 14 Brigade. FENRAD condemns this barbaric attack which has led to loss of lives and property, by men of the Brigade who, FENRAD says, should be protecting the locales,” FENRAD lamented.

The group further said the presence of the military in the community should inspire confidence and a sense of security, but that reverse is now the case as terror and fear have taken over the community, forcing the indigenes to flee Amangwu to neighbouring towns.

In what he called “senseless destruction of lives and properties,” FENRAD’s Executive Director lamented the wanton killing which has spread to other parts of Ohafia, most recently Ebem. Comrade Nwafor said it amounts to an own goal that the military whose presence in Ohafia should inspire confidence and give sense of security among locals now instills fear and terror among same.

“The fact that indigenes and residents have fled Amangwu to neighbouring towns speaks of terror. It is unthinkable that the military still carry out a coup-like operations that overthrow decency and calm in places where peace is supposed to be enforced,” an exasperated Nwafor remarked. However, FENRAD called on the entire Ohafia community to apply restraint, show tolerance and never take the law into their hands. The federal government, the Foundation said, must make sure that peace returned and the displaced persons resettled since the Nigerian 1999 (as amended) provides that security falls within the 68-item federal exclusive list.

FENRAD also called on the state government led by Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to engage the commander of 14 Brigade and see how “this madness” could be resolved so that confidence in the institution of the Nigeria Army is not completely eroded. “The continued occupation of Amangwu or nearby towns by men of the 14 Brigade is a total siege which must be stopped,” FEMRAD stressed.

“FENRAD, in summary, calls for an impact assessment to evaluate what have been destroyed and award of compensation to all parties affected by the military rampage and rascally show of shame. The trauma alone that accompanies such destruction among the locals and residents deserves proper healing. There is need to work on the existing relationship between the soldiers and the entire Ohafia community as this is not the first time this would be happening. Finally, FENRAD urges the military authorities to put an end to what it considers as lawlessness which can only trigger fiercer consequences. Military is a creation of the law which must uphold the constitutional dignity of Nigeria, not to sack communities and displace locales in peacetime,” FENRAD posited. Non-kinetic and constructive approach remains the best alternative; coercion does not guarantee a win-win outcome. Breakdown of order is no man’s gain,” the statement added.

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