HURIWA to deputy speaker: Sloganeering won’t  solve security crises in South East

Mon, Dec 4, 2023
By editor


…insists that only real social justice to families whose members were killed can bring closure

THE initiative known as the peace in the South East project or PISE-P initiated by the deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Mr. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, has been described as an empty highfalutin sloganeering gambit that lacks any kind of depth or philosophical underpinning to resolve the heightened insecurity in the South East.

HURIWA recalled that the deputy speaker’s office claimed that the PISE-P was initiated by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Okezie Kalu and reportedly endorsed by all the Members of the National Assembly from the South-East region just as the advertised thrust of the project is basically to birth an ideological framework that will ultimately combat the hydraheaded monster of insecurity and the sit-at-home conundrum.

HURIWA similarly cited literature on the initiative from the office of the deputy soeaker as explaining the programme in the following words: “Essentially, the programme is designed to speak directly to the consciences of the people of the South-East, especially, the non state actors with the hope of changing the subtleties of hate and marginalisation perceptions in the region.”

Besides, the deputy speaker further adumbrated on the initiative thus: “PISE-P is also tailored towards building requisite infrastructure, giving empowerments, reorientating the people, dissuading their minds on violence, galvanising them with the aim of ultimately enhancing national cohesion and integration.

“We have come up with a programme called Peace in South East, PISE, project. This is being anchored by the members of the parliament, both House of Representatives and the Senate, especially members from that area. I founded that project, and it has the support of other members. So, what we want to do is: how do we bring in peace, not war? How do we calm the nerves of the people? Can we do that through our constituency projects, to put more facilities for our people? Do we do that through more empowerments? Do we do that through more establishment of Federal Government institutions around the area? These are non-kinetic approaches and we are using legislative intervention to see how we can push it.”

Dismissing the initiative by the deputy speaker, as a mere dramatic attempt to Curry favours through media propaganda by celebrating the intellectually porous slogan which lacks empirical perspectives on the concrete ways to restore stability, security and peace in the embattled South East states, HURIWA told the deputy speaker Mr. Benjamin Okezie Kalu that the heightened state of insecurity in the South East demands profound Philosophical solutions that should of necessity include the effective, efficient delivery of well grounded social justice to families of those who have lost their members through the use of extrajudicial killings by armed security forces and the concomitant killings of members of security agents by suspected gunmen and arsonists. 

HURIWA stated that a situation whereby in a state like Imo state whereby the state administration compensated families of security agents unlawfully killed by unidentified militants but the hundreds of civilians and innocent Igbo youths killed by security agents have never received any sort of closure, apologies or compensation from government,  does not augur well for true reconciliation or for any kind of peace initiative to blossom as is being contemplated by the deputy speaker Benjamin Okezie Kalu. 

HURIWA recalled that many families have lost loved ones through extrajudicial killings just like the following cases carried in a media report thus: “It happened in quick successions. The day was December 17, 2015. News had just come over the radio of a court ruling in favour of the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Jubilant crowds poured out into the streets of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State. A group of soldiers stationed at the Head Bridge Market opened fire on one of the crowds.

By the time the smoke cleared, three people laid dead with over a dozen sprawled on the ground with gunshot wounds. The soldiers fled the scene but not without taking with them the three corpses.”

The Rights group stated that from January 2021, gunmen suspected to be unidentified militants launched a series of attacks on government infrastructure, including prisons and public buildings, killing several police officers. Many groups including HURIWA condemned these attacks and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

HURIWA lamented that following these attacks on strategic national security assets inthe South East, the Nigerian security forces launched security operations in June, primarily targeting ESN militants or those perceived as such to decimate the group.    

HURIWA recalled that Amnesty International documented at least 115 persons killed by security forces between March and June 2021. Many relatives of the victims told Amnesty International that they were not part of the militants that were attacking security agents.  Many of the victims were deposited at government hospitals in Imo and Abia state. According to several hospital sources all the victims deposited by the police had bullet injuries.

For instance, in two of the cases documented by Amnesty international, the victims were targeted with no apparent justification: 

Uguchi Unachukwu, a German-based businessman was killed by soldiers on 31 May at a checkpoint near Owerri airport on his way out of the country. The police are yet to investigate the crime.

Mathew Opara, a 45-year-old businessman, was shot by soldiers on 25 May 2021 in Orji, near Owerri. Witnesses told Amnesty International that he was returning from work when he ran into a team of soldiers in armoured vehicle and Hilux vans shooting at residents. He was shot in the chest and could not receive immediate medical help because of the violence.  His family said the military acknowledged the killing but did not launch an investigation or offer any apology.”

HURIWA is therefore informing the deputy speaker that sloganeering built upon political rhetorical statements aimed at achieving personal or  selfish political aggrandisement, is the wrong approach towards finding lasting, sustainable panacea to the crises of insecurity and instability in the South East. 

HURIWA said: “Unless and until there is adequate accountability on the part of state administrations in the South East and especially in Imo State and until erstwhile Niger Delta militant warlord, Mr. Asari Dokubo who confessed to be undertaking a security job in the South East with his private army, is brought to book and all the killings properly investigated, the real killers identified, arrested and prosecuted, it is difficult to convince anyone that the mere slogan set up by the deputy speaker can have any utilitarian objectives for the Igbo states. Besides, how do you want to convince Igbo not to talk about being systematically marginalised when the highest political position that the Igbo which is one of the three majority ethnicities in Nigeria can get from the Tinubu’s administration is the less fancied and seemingly inconsequential office of deputy speaker?”


December 4, 2023 @ 19:16 GMT|