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  1. In 29 Months (Jan 2021-May 2023) Under Gov Hope Uzodinma In Imo: Security Forces And Allied Militias Killed 900 Unarmed Citizens, Wounded 700, Arrested 3500, Extorted 1,400, Disappeared 300, Burned Down 1,200 Civilian Houses, Displaced Their 30,000 Owners And Forced 500,000 Citizens In Active Age-Brackets To Flee To Escape Being Shot And Killed Or Abducted And Disappeared In Security Custody
  2. Armed Non-State Actors (Fulani Jihadists, Counterfeit Agitators, Death Squads, Street Violent Criminal Entities, Etc) Killed 700 (400 In Captivity And 300 In Open Shootings), Abducted 900

Enugu, Eastern Nigeria: Sunday, 21st May 2023

Executive Summary:

1,500 Of The Arrested 3,500 Citizens Still Held, 600 Killed And 1,400 Extorted And Freed

No fewer than 1,500 of the arrested 3,500 unarmed citizens in Imo State in the past 29 or January 2021 to May 2023 months are still being detained in various security, defense and policing detention facilities within and outside the State. They include those held in Imo and Abuja DSS detention facilities and others manned by 34 Brigade, Obinze (near Owerri) and other military formations within and outside Imo (abducted and potentially disappeared), Nigeria Police Force and its crack squads’ formations within and outside Imo State and the Ebubeagu Government militias (jointly perpetrated with Army and Police). Out of the detained 1,500 unarmed citizens, estimated 300 are being held under “awaiting trial” in various Correctional Centers or Prisons within and outside Imo State. The remaining 1,200 are arbitrarily held in various detention facilities manned by the above named security, defense and policing establishments including estimated 900 held within Imo and 300 others held outside the State (.i.e. FCID, FCIB, Army and DSS Headquarters, etc). The remaining 1,400 of the arrested 3,500 unarmed citizens are those mindlessly extorted and freed by various detaining authorities; during which each of the freed detainees coughed out not less than N300, 000 and above to regain his or her freedom.

In other words, criminal ‘bail fees’ imposed and forcefully collected from each of the “freed” detainees ranges from N300,000, N500, 000, N1m to N5m (as case may be). It must also be pointed out that 95% of the arrested 3,500 unarmed citizens were arrested under class criminalization and false labeling of “being seriously involved in Biafra matters”. In the whole, 1,500 of the arbitrarily arrested 3,500 unarmed citizens in Imo State since Jan 2021 are still in detention, 600 killed (including 300 killed without traces or permanently disappeared in detention and 300 killed with traces in detention) and 1,400 others freed under mindless extortion. The Nigeria Police Force is the most atrocious and its crack squads involved include IRT (Intelligence Response Teams), STS (Special Tactical Squads), Anti Terrorism, Anti Kidnapping, Anti Cultism, RRS (Rapid Response Squads), SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Teams) and the Anti Robbery Squads of the Imo State Police Command, etc

Armed State Actor Killings And Burnings Displaced 30,000 And Forced 500,000 To Flee

Imo State of Nigeria under Gov Hope Uzodinma has become the most violent and human rights abusing and violating State in Old Eastern Nigeria and one of the most violent States in the country. The State is majorly troubled by state actor driven insecurity and other unsafe conditions; directly or indirectly funded with Imo public or taxpayers’ funds and perpetrated under the watch of the present Governor and Government of Imo State since January 2021. The State has become so unsafe and insecure under Hope Uzodinma as Imo Governor that from Jan 2021 to May 2023; a period of 29 months or two years and five months, the deployed security forces and allied militias have killed at least 900 defenseless and unarmed citizens, wounded 700, arrested 3500, disappeared 300, invaded 80 communities in at least 20 of the State’s 27 Local Government Areas where at least 1,200 civilian houses and other properties including market stores were atrociously burned down or destroyed.

The attacks by security forces and allied militias have also displaced at least 30,000 occupants or owners of the 1,200 burnt or destroyed houses. The fears generated by the egregious and grisly attacks have forced at least 500,000 defenseless citizens in productive age-brackets to flee their homes and relocate to places considered to be safer to avoid being abducted and killed in custody or shot and killed at sight; or sexually harassed or raped to death in captivity, in the case of young females.

Families No Longer Bury Their Dead In Imo

The wanton destruction of lives and properties in 29 months gone by in Imo State under Gov Hope Uzodinwa is so shocking, chilling and alarming that many families in the affected local government areas/communities no longer ancestrally give their loved ones who died naturally or unnaturally befitting burials and funerals. Natural and slain dead bodies are mostly smuggled in at nights and secretly and indecently buried, after which their funerals are held or organized outside their ancestral homes including at urban residences located in Umuahia, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Onitsha, Nnewi and so on. The Imo Local Government Areas mostly affected or worst hit by the ongoing grisly and egregious destruction of defenseless lives and properties include Orsu, Orlu, Oru East, Oru West, Mbaitoli, Ngor-Okpala, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Okigwe, Ideato North, Ideato South, Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West, Ahiazu Mbaise, Ezinifite Mbaise, Onuimo, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele and Nkwere. Apart from mass murders, arbitrary arrests, abductions, disappearances and civilian house burnings perpetrated by security forces and allied militias using Imo taxpayers funds, armed non state actors including Fulani jihadists, counterfeit agitators, “Government Unknown Gunmen” or political death/killer squads, private armies/militias and street violent criminals have also within the period (Jan 2021-May 2023) killed at least 700 defenseless civilians and abducted 900 others.

600 Citizens Secretly Killed By Armed State Actors In Imo And 300 Died In Open Shootings

The number of unarmed and defenseless citizens secretly killed by armed state actors in Imo State in 29 months is estimated at 600, out of which, the Nigeria Police IRT’s Owerri Tiger Base accounted for at least 200 deaths and its Abuja Force CIB Headquarters (Abattoir) about 150 secret deaths. The custodial secret killings are in connection with “Biafra Matters”. The third most atrocious perpetrators of the secret killings in Imo are the Nigerian Army’s 34 Brigade at Obinze and other formations under 82 Division, Enugu; accounting for 100 “permanent disappearances” or custodial killings. The Nigeria Police STS and RRS under Force CID, Abuja and their annexes located outside Imo State accounted for at least 100 secret killings while the Imo State Police Command’s crack teams including Anti Terrorism, Anti Kidnapping, Special Weapons Tactical Squads (formerly SARS) and Anti Cultism, etc accounted for least 150 secret killings.

Out of the estimated death of 300 unarmed and defenseless citizens in open shootings and killings recorded in 29 months, soldiers of the 34 Brigade at Obinze and other military formations are jointly responsible for about 150 deaths; recorded in patrols, raiding and invasions during “joint military operations”. The various police crack squads attached to the Imo State Police Command including IRT (Intelligence Response Teams), STS (Special Tactical Squads), Anti Terrorism, Anti Kidnapping, Anti Cult, RRS (Rapid Response Squads), SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Teams) or Anti Robbery Squads are jointly responsible for not less than 100 deaths arising from open shootings. Ebubeagu Government militias accounted for 70 open killings while remaining 30 deaths represented “dark figures of crime”.

Armed State Actors Attacked Or Razed 200 Synagogues And 300 Traditional Sanctuaries In Imo

It must be recalled that the beginning of armed state actor mass murders, abductions, arbitrary arrests, long detention without trial, class criminalization and stigmatization, disappearances and civilian house burnings in Imo State started in January 2021 with indiscriminate clamp down, false labeling and property attacks directed at residents of Orlu part of the State during which over 33 leaders/members of the African Instituted Churches branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) or Synagogues were arrested and their churches raided and destroyed. The Government of Imo State also responded and justified the attacks by issuing a statement through its Attorney General, accusing them of “sponsoring Unknown Gunmen and ESN/IPOB and providing spiritual backups and charms for them”.

Such despicable, condemnable and internationally prohibited class criminalization and stigmatization had arisen from unsubstantiated narratives or allegations derived from false and corrupted intelligence that “IPOB members are faithful of Jewish Synagogues and traditional religions which provide them with bullet-proof charms when under attack, therefore, all White Garment Churches and Traditional Religious Sanctuaries belong to ESN/IPOB/Unknown Gunmen members/supporters”. It was on the basis of such false narratives and labeling that the armed state actors adopted sundry jungle justice methods and internationally prohibited acts to unleash widespread state crimes against persons and properties of the Synagogues and the sacred traditional sanctuaries, their symbols and principal worshippers. This is to the extent that in the 29 months gone by, armed state actors have targeted and destroyed or burned down at least 300 traditional religious sanctuaries and 200 Synagogues in Imo State and their principal worshippers including prophets and oracle men killed or disappeared or incarcerated.

Class Criminalization And Reprisals Behind Mass Murders And House Burnings In Imo

Not less than 95% of the victims of mass murders, abductions, disappearances and other internationally prohibited acts in Imo under Hope Uzodinma as Governor have been identified as defenseless and unarmed, attacked and killed or abducted, tortured and permanently disappeared by the drafted security forces using internationally prohibited class criminalization and reprisals. The attacks on defenseless civilian properties leading to armed state actors’ burning down or destruction of 1,200 civilian houses are also perpetrated using class criminalization and reprisals targeted at the defenseless or uninvolved citizens. Apart from lack of professionalism, administrative and operational competence, the drafted military, police and spy police personnel specifically adopted ethnic and religious profiling as their operational modus operandi in Imo State, in addition to lopsided composition of the command and rank and file of the drafted security agencies with over 80% of their commanding officers hailed from Northern Muslim extraction and others from outside the South-East.

The drafted senior Muslim security officers also see the “internal security operations in the South-East” as “a state jihad and ethnic war”. The Nigeria Police and the Army High Commands had since 2021 adopted ‘transfer of criminal responsibility’, ‘ethno-religious profiling’ and ‘class criminalization’ in Imo and the South-East. The present IGP and a former Nigerian Army Chief (Attahiru) had in 2021 charged their personnel to “take war to villages and villagers where soldiers or police personnel are attacked or killed by Unknown Gunmen in the South-East”. Since then, the security forces have turned blind eyes on armed fighting parties and turned against the defenseless and unarmed citizens in Imo State and the South-East. The above explains why Imo State accounts for at least 60% of mass murders, abductions, disappearances and civilian house burnings in the South-East Region since January 2021, followed by the Obigbo Army massacre of Oct 2020 in Rivers State.

The shot and killed unarmed and defenseless citizens and atrociously labeled civilian properties burned down or destroyed as “houses/properties” and “relatives, wives, girlfriends, parents, children, friends and supporters of Unknown Gunmen or IPOB/ESN”. Defenseless civilians also got killed and falsely labeled by armed state actors moments or hours after ‘Unknown Gunmen’ attacks or during Monday sit-at-home or major social events like Easter or Christmas and New Year and tagged “ESN/IPOB/Unknown Gunmen and their supporters”.

Instant ‘death-code’ has also been adopted by security forces against any unarmed citizen or group of unarmed citizens seen wearing or holding any shirt or insignia with combined colors bearing black and red or with rising sun symbols. Soldiers of the 34 Brigade, Obinze have severally been accused in recent times of late night blockage of Onitsha-Owerri Road at Mgbidi and Owerri-Elele Road axis during which commercial buses loaded with passengers are flagged down and commanded to offload their passengers for point-blank physical checks-resulting in those with tattoos and stylish hair-cuts or gymnastic body building being rounded up and bundled away to unknown destinations; thereby putting them at high risk of disappearing without traces or not returning to their families or homes alive. Imo State Government Ebubeagu militias also indiscriminately mount late evening and early morning roadblocks during which defenseless citizens in their large numbers risk being abducted and secretly shot and killed and their bodies disappeared.

13 Of Every 15 Openly Killed In Imo Are Unarmed And 15 Of Every 15 Secretly Killed Are Unarmed

The armed state actors’ attacks on defenseless and unarmed citizens in Imo State using state taxpayers’ funds have been critically examined and findings made clearly showed that: “out of every 15 citizens accused of being “seriously involved in Biafra Matters”, 14 are innocent; out of every 15 arbitrarily arrested and detained without trial in connection with “Biafra Matters”, 13 are innocent arbitrarily arrested and detained-with the remaining two ought not to have been held arbitrarily without trial; out of every 15 persons killed in the open by soldiers or police crack squads in connection with “Biafra Matters”, 13 are defenseless and unarmed; out of every 15 tortured/starved to death or shot and killed in detention in connection with “Biafra Matters”, the same number are defenseless and unarmed; out of every 15 abducted outside their family knowledge and official records by soldiers in connection with “Biafra Matters”, 14 are not likely to come back alive; and if arrested/abducted by DSS or Police crack squads, seven run the high risk of being tortured and killed in custody and only eight have chances of coming back alive by ‘buying’ their freedom from detaining authorities; out of every 15 arrested by the drafted military personnel including soldiers and principal officers of 34 Brigade, Obinze (Imo), 14 Brigade, Ohafia (Abia) and 302 Artillery, Onitsha, Anambra (under interstate joint patrols), six run the risk of not returning to their families alive; out of every 15 houses or homes burned down or destroyed by the drafted security forces, same 15 houses belong to defenseless citizens without any link to ‘military necessity’.

700 Civilians Killed By Armed Non State Actors In Imo And 900 Others Abducted Since Jan 2021

The armed non state actor entities in Imo State have since January 2021 killed at least 700 defenseless citizens and abducted 900 others; out of which 400 were killed in captivity and 300 died in open shootings that occurred in different parts of Imo State. Just as the dreaded Ebubeagu militias partook in the armed state actor killing of 900, abduction/arrest of 3500 and disappearance of 300; the dreaded militias also took a lion’s share alongside political death/killer squads and armed counterfeit agitators in the open shootings and killings that claimed the lives of 300 defenseless citizens in Imo State; jointly accounting for 250 deaths.

The non Islamic kidnappers-for-ransom, the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, the armed political opposition reprisal squads and other members of the armed street criminal entities took responsibility for the remaining 50 deaths. Out of the 400 defenseless deaths arising from captivity shootings and killings including abducted citizens shot or tortured to death in captivity, kidnappers-for-ransom (including armed counterfeit agitators) accounted for 200 deaths, followed by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen with 100 deaths.The responsibility for the remaining 100 deaths in captivity is shared by Ebubeagu militias, political death/killer squads, kidnap-for-ransom members of armed street criminal entities and operatives of the Eastern Security Network (collateral civilian deaths recorded in January to December 2021).

It must be noted that under the International Law’s best practices, casualties that occurred between fighting parties or between security forces and armed opposition fighting parties are not recorded or counted. It is also internationally prohibited to attack, destroy or burn down houses and other properties including sacred places of worship and their religious symbols which do not constitute ‘military necessity’.

Armed Non State Actors Abducted 900 Civilians In 29 Months And Killed 300 In Captivity

It is the finding of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) that not less than 900 defenseless citizens were abducted by five of the eight identified armed non state entities in Imo State in 29 months (Jan 2021-May 2023), out of which 33% or 300 were killed in captivity; representing those that could not return to their families alive after being abducted. Out of the 900 abductions, political killer squads (“Government Unknown Gunmen”), Ebubeagu Government militias and counterfeit agitators accounted for 400, kidnapers-for-ransom members of the ‘street violent criminal entities and private armies accounted for 300 and the jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and others 200.

The 300 victims of the abductors’ captivity killings represent those unable to return to their families alive or presumed to have been killed in captivity owing to their inability to pay ransoms or who died from torture or gunshot injuries or because of their refusal to be raped, if females; or recite Islamic incantations and be converted to Islam, if abducted on religious grounds. Greater number of victims of political abductions also died in captivity after being abducted. Some victims of the 900 abductions who managed to return home alive died afterwards as a result of terminal injuries inflicted or complicated health issues arising from their abductions by five out of named eight armed non state actor entities in Imo.

Calling For International Criminal Enquiries And Indictments In Imo State

The leadership of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), Nigeria’s leading human rights, rule of law and democracy research and investigative Organization, is strongly calling for international criminal enquiries and indictments in Imo State. The criminal enquiries under demand are extremely necessary for purpose of unmasking the identities of those that killed, abducted, disappeared, arbitrarily arrested/detained and tortured; those that aided, abetted and omitted to act to stop the killings, abductions, disappearances and torture; those that were killed, abducted, tortured and disappeared.

To be forensically unmasked too are: when, where, how the killings, abductions, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and disappearances took place and why. These are in addition to: identification of: the type, location and number of houses and other properties burned down or destroyed and those responsible for burning or destroying them and why they were burned or destroyed (domicide) and identification of the available legal frameworks and rules of engagement disapproving and sanctioning such heinous acts or conducts.

Apart from criminal enquiries, indictments and prosecutions being demanded, the leading perpetrators listed in the Page 33 (last page) of this Special Research and Investigative Report 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 South-East in general.

It is therefore on account of the above that we are strongly and specifically calling on Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Hon Karim A.A. Khan (UK), President of ICC, Judge Piotr Hofmanski (Poland), First Vice-President of ICC, Judge Luz Del Carmen Ibanez Carranza and Second Vice-President of ICC, Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua to intervene in Nigeria’s Imo State and its South-East Region. Our calling on the ICC to intervene is grounded in Nigeria being signatory to the ICC Statute (signed and ratified in Sept 2001) and the country’s loss of its international right and obligation to investigate, prosecute and judicially convict the perpetrators in the Imo mass murders, civilian house burnings and other internationally prohibited acts or conducts; in line with the International Law’s Principles of Complementarity and Zero Impunity.

Nigeria’s Intersociety is also calling on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland and New York, USA to intervene by launching joint or separate investigations through the UNHCR’s Special Rapporteurs generally charged with responsibilities of holding enquiries into grisly and egregious human rights abuses and violations, such as in the case of Imo State. The current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is Mr. Volker Turk of Austria.

The UN Rights Special Rapporteurs being called upon are the Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary and Extrajudicial Executions or Killings, the Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Inhuman or Degrading Treatments or Punishments, the Special Rapporteur on Environment and Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on UN Committee on Involuntary or Enforced Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing (anti domicide). ‘Domicide’ is the massive and arbitrary destruction of civilian houses or homes in a situation of turbulent democracy or violent conflict. The International Law outlaws all forms of arbitrary housing destruction.
Intersociety is also drawing the attention of the International Secretariat of the Amnesty International headed by Dr Agnes Callamard (respected former UN Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary and Extrajudicial Killings or Executions) as well as the Executive Director of the US respected Human Rights Watch, Mr. Kenneth Roth, etc; calling on them to use their good offices to cause their respected and respective global Rights Organizations to focus their advocacy attentions on Imo and South-East. Called upon to take this research and investigative report of ours to next critical level are other apostles and disciples of justice including human rights and democracy leaders within and beyond Imo State and the South-East. Not exempted are the unbiased political actors and other critical stakeholders in Imo State and the South-East. The Imo mass murders, civilian house burnings and other internationally prohibited acts have been perpetrated with rapacious impunity and recklessness; to the extent that till date, not even a single armed state actor or armed non state actor perpetrator; or a public official or office holder aider and abettor has been brought to accountability including being investigated, tried, convicted and jailed. The sum-total of the above has institutionalized impunity and ‘repeat-offenses’ in Imo State and the South-East.

See the full report here:

Compiled By: Emeka Umeagbalasi, M.Sc. Criminologist-Researcher

Board Chair, Intersociety, Nigeria

Assisted By:

·Chidinma Udegbunam, Esquire, Human Rights Lawyer/Head of Publicity @ Intersociety

·Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esquire, Human Rights Lawyer/Head of Int’l Justice @ Intersociety

·Ositadinma Agu, Media Expert/Head of Int’l Contacts and Mobilization @ Intersociety

WhatsApp/Mobile: +2348174090052


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