Human Rights Group Demands End to Military Airstrikes in Imo
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to end what it described as unwarranted military aggression in the South-east region with specific reference to the reported airstrikes in Imo State.
HURIWA said the unilateral and arbitrary deployment of airpower by Buhari against the region, even when the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) had reportedly asked their members to disengage from their activities, constituted a crime of military aggression against innocent civilians.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the continuous deployment of military force in the Southeast would rather escalate the current security challenges in the Southeast and South-south regions, “which have witnessed unwarranted attacks on police formations and operatives by unknown gunmen,” than bring solution to the situation.
It said the continued airstrikes amounted to a unilateral and illegal warfare against the law-abiding citizens of South-east region.
“HURIWA has therefore asked the government to stop these unlawful airstrikes before they lead to loss of innocent lives of villagers, who now live in a state of fear and a climate of panic,” the statement said.
The rights group alleged that the airstrikes have created an atmosphere of fear and a climate of uncertainty in Imo State with millions of people unsure of their safety any longer.
Meanwhile, HURIWA has described the death of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, and other officers in a military plane crash as regrettably avoidable and tragic.
It tasked the yet-to-be-named successor to the office of the COAS to be mindful of the inherent human rights of citizens recognised by law.
The rights group also urged the new Chief of Army Staff to compel soldiers to comply by rules of engagement and adhere strictly to the human rights provisions as enshrined in the constitution.
HURIWA added that the incoming army chief should try to mainstream respect for the fundamental human rights of civilians by military personnel in all internal security operations.