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Military killing our youths, Ogbaru residents allege

Residents of the Ogbaru community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have decried the military invasion of their communities.

They accused the soldiers of killing their innocent youths in the guise of fighting crime and criminality in the area.

Ogbaru is one of the communities where a curfew had been imposed over its high crime rate and military personnel has been reportedly dislodging some criminal camps in recent times.

The soldiers have also reportedly invaded several Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network camps in the community and killed the dissidents.

The residents’ lamentation followed alleged killings on Tuesday and Wednesday at Ossomala, Umunankwo and Obeagwa communities by the army.

An elder in the community who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the military personnel had been searching houses and in the process allegedly killed over 100 youths in the community.

He said the community was not against the military fighting criminal elements, but they are worried that scores of innocent lives have been lost in the process.

He said, ”Troops of the Nigerian military comprising the Navy and the Army have killed dozens of innocent citizens in their productive age bracket in Ogbaru.

“The deployment of the military personnel in this area began in the evening of Tuesday during which they claimed to be looking for unknown gunmen that recently laid the area under siege.

“The soldiers turned their guns on the defenceless and unarmed natives and others while abandoning the forests that are the hideouts of the unknown gunmen located inside big river/swamp forest of Obene-Ochuche/Umuzu/Okija divided by Ulasi River.

“The soldiers were mobilised from Ogbaru Naval Base and Onitsha 302 Artillery Regiment in over 20 trucks with arms and ammunition. They targeted defenceless locals mainly young males and opened fire on them at close range and killed scores. They also wounded and arrested others who are later to be questionably labelled as “ESN/IPOB hoodlums.”

Viral videos of the alleged attack showed abandoned corpses shot on the foreheads, heart regions, stomach, back and reproductive organ region littered in several locations of the community.

The soldiers were also accused of invading several “sacred” places, destroying the places, and displaying sacred symbols while linking their adherents to IPOB and ESN.

A security analyst and board of trustees chairman of a rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, in a statement, described the alleged killings as a genocide.

Umeagbalasi lamented that the sanctity of human lives was not prioritized, likewise the principles of use of force, adding that the pictures and videos of the incident clearly connoted “egregious and industrial-scale massacre of unarmed citizens”.

He said, “No doubt that Ogbaru is one of the council areas presently under the grip of syndicated criminal entities engaging in several nefarious activities including abductions, killings, armed robberies and ransom demands as well as counterfeiting ESN trademarked modes of operation by attacking security operatives and government facilities.

“But latest findings by Intersociety showed that the criminal entities are camped inside big river/swamp Forest of Obene-Ochuche/Umuzu/Okija divided by Ulasi River. The area covers Ogbaru Communities of Atani, Amiyi, Umuzu, Ochuche, Akiri-Ozuzu, Osamari, Umunankwo and Ogwuanaocha

“Information available to Intersociety also has it that they have camps at different forests in Umunankwo and Ogwuanaocha.

“Consequently on the night of Tuesday, 28 June 2022, over 20 trucks of soldiers, arms and ammunition were mobilised and the areas were invaded in an aimless war grade operation and instead of the military personnel including Naval and Army Personnel from Ogbaru Naval Base and Onitsha 302 Artillery Regiment going into the affected Forest camps, they let loose on innocent locals, shooting them at close range including foreheads, chests, manhood and other terminal regions.

“Several or dozens were killed in the end as you might have seen in the videos and pictures of the aftermath of the invasion.

“The rampaging military personnel also went into villages and broke homes at late night, forcing scores to be killed and other defenseless natives of the affected communities to escape through River Niger and others.

Our findings further showed that the slain were members of defenseless locals and have nothing to do with “Unknown Gunmen” who the Nigerian security forces have severally and publicly acknowledged bearing charms preventing bullet penetration.Also no armed person could have been shot at such close range and killed easily that way at his terminal region without dodging and stiff defensive resistance.”

The state police spokesman, Tochukwu Ikenga, could not be reached for his reaction as he did not take the calls nor responded to text messages sent to his phone.

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