The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, a human rights group, has expressed concern over the killings in Imo State in the last year. The group has come out to condemn this act and has called for international criminal inquiries to assist in unraveling what’s happening in the state.
According to Intersociety, there is no need “to inquire into the gruesome killings of unarmed civilians and the burning down of peoples’ houses in the guise of fighting criminal elements” in the Imo state.
They noted that the criminal inquiries will aid in unmasking the real identities of those behind the atrocities.
The group lamented the frequency at which people were being “killed, abducted, disappeared, arbitrarily arrested/detained and tortured” in Imo State and by extension the South East region.
Releasing a report of its investigation on the killing in Imo State, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, the Chairman of Intersociety, claimed that “no fewer than 1600 unarmed citizens of Imo State have been killed while 300 others disappeared without trace between January 2021 and May 2023, a period of 29 months”.
According to Umeagbalasi, the investigation showed that “over 700 persons also sustained life-threatening injuries with over 900 others abducted within the same period under review”.
Quoting from the 33-page document entitled “Special Research and Investigative Report”, which he presented to journalists in Enugu;
Umeagbalasi explained that “state and non-state actors were responsible for the Imo killings” and stressed the need to fish them out.
He continued saying “state actors accounted for the death of 900 out of the 1600 unarmed persons killed in the state while the other 700 were killed by armed non-state actors within the period under review”.
“600 out of the 900 were secretly killed by state actors while 300 died in open shootings”.
He also revealed that the group’s investigation further revealed that “400 out of the 700 killed by armed non-state actors died in captivity while 300 others were killed in open shootings”.
“3500 young people were arrested by state actors with about 1400 of them paying through their noses to secure their freedom while over 1500 of them are still being detained in various detention facilities within and outside the state”.
”About 1,200 houses were burnt with their 30, 000 dwellers displaced while 500,000 citizens of the state in active age brackets were forced to flee to escape being shot and killed or abducted”.
According to Umeagbalasi, the affected local government areas include; Orsu, Orlu, Oru East, Oru West, Mbaitoli, Ngor Okpala, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Okigwe, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele, Nkwerre, Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West, Ahiazu Mbaise, Ezinihitte Mbaise, and Onuimo.
He said due to the feeling of insecurity created by the killings in the state, families prefer holding funeral ceremonies outside the state for fear of the attacks and killings.
To curb the insecurity crisis in Imo, Intersociety urged the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to begin international criminal inquiries into the killings in the state and unmask the identities of the perpetrators of these evil acts.
“Apart from criminal inquiries, indictments and prosecutions being demanded, the leading perpetrators shall be placed on visa bans and barred from all forms of international career, professional and private engagements especially in USA, Canada, Australia, UK, EU, France, Germany, and South-East Asia and so on; for their involvement in grisly and egregious rights abuses and violations in Imo State in particular and the Southeast in general”, the group suggested.