The invitation admittedly extended to the Army by Enugu Police Commissioner ahead of the deadly shooting at Emene was too prompt and bears stark evidence of premeditation for lethal violence against the Igbo element on the part of the Commissioner of Police.
This premeditation stems from the customary lack of compatriot empathy often exhibited by Northern Muslim security chiefs and other ranks towards Igbos when it comes to law enforcement of this kind, even when the target of such enforcement is, without regard to their numbers, unarmed and nonviolent.
From similar occurrences in this era, it is becoming clear that the only trigger required for security agents to unleash an assault of this magnitude is the slightest sign of a Biafran or IPOB insignia. Even a Biafran armband, bandana or a flag is considered enough.
This has always been the case from August 2015 when these easy mass murders of Igbos, under the guise of demonizing them as IPOB, got underway. That is why security agencies are too quick to rush to the media to characterize or spin such incidents as “clash” between security agents and IPOB. Simultaneously, they will tag along the hackneyed singsong that IPOB was declared a “terrorist group”, as if that endows them with the absolute license to kill at a whim.
So, as tribal considerations go, you can bet that the opposite would have been the case if an Igbo, a Southern, or even a moderate MiddleBelt officer was incharge, either at the theatre or locale of the assault or amongst the high commands where the rules of engagement are determined.
A lot of people don’t know this, but in the unique reckoning of Nigerian security operations, ‘shoot-to-kill’ instead of ‘shoot to maim’ is the standard rule of engagement when it comes to containing terrorists. They make no differentiation between a bomb-wielding Abubakar Shekau and an idealistic Igbo youth who is catching his nationalistic swag with a Biafran armband while correctly believing that he is exercising his constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression in his country and within the relative safety of his Igbo homeland. The only differentiation is that an Abubakar Shekau is more likely to be pardoned than and the Igbo killed once Nigeria dubiously convinces itself that such Igbo is an IPOB member.
So, as an Igbo – especially the youth – you will be lucky to be alive once someone fingers you as an IPOB member and points security agents to your direction. Within the purview of Nigeria’s retrograde security analysis, such ‘fingering’ will be promptly admitted as a ‘security report’ without more. So, chances are that you will be summarily executed in a contrived “clash” without any option of surrender or even maiming. Little wonder that the Enugu Police Commissioner unashamedly cited ‘security report’ as the core basis for the tremendous violence that was arrayed against those innocent souls.
This Enugu massacre is one too many that have combined to stoke the popular notion that the predominance of Northern Muslim (mostly Fulani) officers and other ranks in security formations in Southeast is deliberately geared to the greater oppression of the Igbo, not just the IPOB. This is why the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group was seen by many as an ethnic-tinged maneuver to create a statutory plank to keeping the gutsy Igbo in line.
The historical dangers of a tribally-imbalanced security leadership for Nigeria terrified the framers of the 1999 Constitution to the point that – pivoting on the Armed Forces as the exemplar – they enacted at Section 217(3) that ‘the composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria’. In plain terms, it means that the Igbo or natives of Southeast shall not be excluded. But the opposite is the case and it seems to sit well Nigerians who desire the nation to be one. Incredible!
And at Section 14(3), the same Constitution provides that, ‘the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies shall ensure that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies’. Again, this means that the Igbo shall be equal partakers. But they are not. Yet, Igbos are taunted with the 2023 Presidency of Nigeria. Pray, how can you be President of a country you are not a partaker, or that disdains you to the point of extrajudicial murder.
To be sure, all the security agencies – the Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, DSS, NIA, etc – are all Federal and thus belonging to all Nigerians, like it or not. So, it’s uncanny and somewhat sinister that – since 2015 – those that are ruling Nigeria have deliberately violated the Constitution by notoriously excluding the Igbo from the security architecture of Nigeria. This is beside the exclusion from the rest of what makes Nigeria tick.
Under these circumstances, these killings of Ndigbo in their homeland will surely continue until Ndigbo collectively resorts to scotched-earth civil disobedience and other countervailing measures that will compel the Nigerian State to do right by de-proscribing the IPOB and balancing-out Nigeria’s Federal leadership (security and civilian, alike). Should such measures fail to encourage Nigeria to see reason and abide by the clear letters of its Constitution, then Ndigbo should be well-advised to start consulting with Nnamdi Kanu without further ado. Enough said!
Ejimakor, a Lawyer writes from [email protected]