Youths Of Apex Igbo Group, Ohaneze, Alongside Top Igbo Professional Group, Aka Ikenga, Warn Against Using The Amnesty Report To Witch-Hunt Former Chief Of Army Staff
Emenike Ubani,Umuahia and Francis Moses
Youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze, has warned that “another Ojukwu will go to war” if ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, whom it described as an illustrious Igbo son, is prosecuted in line with the demand of Amnesty International.
Amnesty International had on Wednesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate some former and serving Nigerian service chiefs for war crimes.
The crimes, according to the American group were perpetrated during the fight against Boko Haram in the North-East between March 2011 and 2014. It said in a comprehensive report entitled, “Stars on their shoulders, blood on their hands: War crimes committed by the Nigerian military” that no fewer than 8,000 persons were murdered, starved and tortured to death in the North-East during the period.
The International body in the report said that it had “compelling evidence” for the investigation of the former and serving Service Chiefs as well as “midlevel and senior-level military commanders.” However, in a press statement released in Umuahia yesterday, the National President of Ohaneze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, described the agency’s call for Ihejirika’s trial as “utter rubbish”.
He accused some anti-Igbo elements of trying to use the international body to revenge on Southern military top brass who staked their lives in defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria. Isiguzoro said “the last insult Ndigbo would take from those who think they are the owners of Nigeria is to allow them touch Gen. Ihejirika who served his father land meritoriously.
“What Ihejirika and other military personnel who staked their lives fighting Boko Haram deserve is commendation and not a politically- motivated prosecution. “Where was Amnesty International when Boko Haram fighters were annihilating Christians in Northern Nigeria? Where was Amnesty International when Boko Haram was throwing bombs inside churches, mosques, markets, motor parks etc and killing innocent Nigerians? “What effort has Amnesty International made to bring sponsors of Boko Haram to book? Or will they claim they did not hear when some people threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable should Goodluck Jonathan win the 2011 presidential election”.
Ohaneze accused Amnesty International of “hypocrisy and playing double standards”, just as it urged President Buhari to disregard the report “if he wants to lead a united Nigeria”. According to Isiguzoro, “Why did Amnesty International close its eyes and seal its lips when youth corps members from the South were being killed in the North after the 2011 presidential election result was announced? Why did Amnesty International not call for the prosecution of those who supervised the genocide against Ndigbo before, during and after the civil war?” Ohaneze also said apart from over One million Igbo killed during the war, Boko Haram and religious clashes had claimed over 200,000 Igbo resident in the North with property worth over N2 trillion, belonging to them, destroyed.
“Why is Amnesty International turning a blind eye to the systematic genocide against Igbo in the North and the gradual annihilation of Middle Belt communities by herdsmen? “That power has returned to the North does not mean that other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria will become slaves.
Nobody should use Amnesty International to intimidate anybody unless they have agreed that we are tired of this forced union called Nigeria”, he said. The Ohaneze youth leader also spoke of the need for those preaching anti-Igbo messages to refrain from same. He said: “We want them to stop their serial anti- Igbo comments; we have been carefully studying these unwarranted attacks and will take a position very soon.
As far as we are concerned, no amount of jealously can stop Ndigbo from succeeding even in deserts”. Also condemning Amnesty Internaltional’s call, Aka Ikenga, said the purported report presents the group as a willing tool in the hands of vendetta seekers. Aka Ikenga, in a statement signed by its President, Chief Goody Uwazurike, regretted that Amnesty International has allowed itself to be used as channel for fringe dwellers to discredit national institutions and political bodies.
It noted that the group has become synonymous with “misinformation and blackmail”, adding that it allowed itself to be used in the last presidential election. “The Amnesty Nigerian chapter is manned by young men and women who stayed in Abuja to disseminate information on what is going on in the warfront. These people always begin their fantastic report by crediting an anonymous but credible source,” said Aka Ikenga. “Enough of this hullabaloo! We know the target is the gallant Gen Azubuike Ihejirika! Last year, Phantom “Davis” reported to have fingered Ihejirika as the sponsor of Boko Haram.
The gullible political leaders and purveyors of falsehood promptly took up the battle and cried against him, but today, he is among those “indicted” by Amnesty International! But we ask, can Amnesty International indict anyone? “We call on the Amnesty International and their collaborators to leave us alone, since they have succeeded to vote out the former President Jonathan for signing the Anti-gay bill into law.
“Is it not obvious that Amnesty International issues negative reports on Nigerian military any time Boko Haram is being dealt with? Have you taken a good look at this Amnesty Reports and others to realize that those are computer generated images fabricated by a good graphics man? An international agency that swallows hook line and sinker the reports from its Nigerian representatives should blame itself. “Has it not always been known that Amnesty International has never condemned Boko Haram for its notorious activities? Nor condemned Odi and Zaki Ibiam massacres”, Aka Ikenga noted.
Spokesman of Defence Headquarters, Gen. Chris Olukolade, had while dismissing the Amnesty International report said it was concocted and biased. Olukolade had said:: “It is clear that Amnesty International (AI) becomes more active in presenting distractive allegations whenever the terrorists are losing ground in the battle. It is very unfortunate that Amnesty International has used this report to further confirm its questionable interest in the counterterrorism effort in Nigeria. “It will be recalled that the Joint Investigation Team was set up by the Defence Headquarters as part and parcel of efforts to ensure that no detainee suffer unjustly.
The detention facilities were thrown open for visits and inspections by independent bodies such as International Committee of the Red Cross and other reputable international organisations and personalities. “Amnesty International is advised to stop playing the role of an irritant coming up loudly only when the terrorists are losing out and remaining silent or complacent whenever the terrorist heightens its atrocities. It is unfair to persist in effort to discredit Nigerian military by seeking all avenues to stigmatise individual officers of the nation’s military purely to satisfy an agenda against the security agencies and image of Nigeria before the international community”.
He also exonerated all officers listed by the report saying: “The officers mentioned in the report have no reason, whatsoever, to indulge in the allegation made against them. It is unfortunate that the organisation just went out to gather names of specified senior officers, in a calculated attempt to rubbish their reputation as well as the image of the military. The action, no doubt, depicts more of a premeditated indictment aimed at discrediting the country for whatever purpose”. President Buhari, had in a statement signed by his media aide, Garba Shehu, promised to look into the report.