Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has condemned the killings of Igbo youths in Emene, Enugu State, last Sunday by security operatives, saying such repeated killings have given room to suspicions of a sinister motive.
In a statement in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, the senator joined other groups to demand an urgent setting up of a Judicial Panel of Inquiry by the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to investigate the killings.
The judicial panel, Abaribe said, will help to unravel the truth in the statements of security operatives and other groups on what really happened, adding that it is disheartening that law enforcers seem to derive pleasure from unleashing violence on unarmed Igbo youths at the slightest provocation.
He also lamented that the labeling of every Igbo group as terrorists has become one too many and is no longer acceptable as it demeans Nigeria’s democratic ethos and even questions her unity.
“We are in a democracy where every agency of government, particularly the security apparatchik, must adhere strictly to rules of engagement that conform with international best practices in dealing with the civil populace.
“The last time I checked, Nigerians still enjoy freedom to associate freely. Nobody has told us that the Igbo youths’ meeting last Sunday was a gathering meant to launch attack on anybody. Who would they attack and for what? What informed the police and DSS deployment to the venue of the meeting?
“Incontrovertible reports suggest very strongly that the killings were ignited when security operatives stormed the venue of that peaceful meeting, and not that the youths marched to anywhere to attack anybody. These are the issues that should be addressed at the panel.
“Let it not be that we now have an army of occupation in Southeast, working clandestinely to create fear and state of anomie in a region that has remained perhaps the most peaceful in the country,” Abaribe said.
He, however, advised the youths to remain calm and not succumb to provocations that could tempt them to take laws into their hands in reprisals.
In a similar tone, Igbos in the Diaspora under the aegis of Igbo Board of Deputies (IBD) claimed on Tuesday that the Enugu killings on Sunday marked the 15th by security forces in an alleged coordinated massacre targeted at unarmed Igbo youths in the last five years.
Condemning the development in a statement made available to The Guardian in Enugu, IBD insisted that no crime was committed to have provoked the attack, even as the group called for a thorough investigation of the incident.
The IBD Coordinator, Austin Okeke, decried what he described as “incessant killing of Igbo youths”, stressing that the “unprovoked assault on the people will provoke a larger breakdown if the Federal Government continues this practice”.
Okeke said: “Our conclusion after the initial information filtering is that the Federal Government is clearly looking for an alibi to justify its further occupation of the South East.
“Currently, every two miles in the South East of Nigeria is occupied by federal forces. They are there on the roads terrorizing motorists, abridging the freedom of movement, assembly of the people, and making life fearful.
“So, why is it that it is in the East where people are quietly going on with their struggle for survival that the DSS is stirring a major onslaught?
“Before word even got out about the killings, the DSS had uncharacteristically hurriedly put out a press release. We suspect a cover-up.”
The group claimed that the massacre of Igbo youths, which started on August 30, 2015 in Onitsha and Yenegoa and was extended to Port Harcourt and Asaba on August 30, 2015, has occurred repeatedly across the Southeast region in 2016, 2017, and 2019 through Sunday, August 23rd, 2020, bringing the total number of such massacres to at least fifteen, and involving lives of over 500 unarmed Igbo youths.