Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, (FENRAD), a pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group, having obtained, reviewed and analysed two explicit video materials where the Prelate of the Methodist Church and certain CSP Johnbull Obiorugo made revelations that suggest the Nigeria Army is complicit in the spate of kidnap-for-ransom common in the South-East region, has reminded the military that time has come for it to come clean before Nigerian citizens in the face of two weighty allegations levelled against it’s institution by a kidnap victim (survivor) and law enforcement officer, CSP Johnbull Obiorugo.
In a release by its Executive Director
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor and Head, Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement, Barr. Akande Femisi, FENRAD raised concern about how, in spite of heavy military presence and formations stationed around the Lokpanta, Arondizogu, Leru, Uturu and Okigwe axis, kidnap of citizens continue to happen repeatedly.
FENRAD recalled that a former release once raised concern over this same matter last year during the time students of Abia State University were kidnapped frequently by persons said to be Fulani herders.
The group said the revelation by the Bishop should not be treated as the complaint of a blabbermouth but one which should allow the military examine its ranks, using adequate intelligence, in order to know whether the said allegation is substantial or otherwise.
FENRAD said as the commander of the police special unit, Rapid Response Squad, RSS, CSP Johnbull Obiorugo’s address before a mob in Umunneochi LGA of Abia State should be given priority attention since the CSP is in a better position to tell whether or not there have been challenges encountered by men and officers of his formation in attempt to arrest alleged Fulani kidnappers.
Furthermore, the group said even though it doesn’t believe in latrine rumour or any other such gossip that seeks to denigrate the Nigerian army in its campaign against terror, two questions abound: Are there military formations close to the affected communities? Have the said communities been witnessing kidnap regardless of military presence?
FENRAD noted that the fragile security situation in the South-East is a source of worry already and needs no further escalation, maintaining that the releases, such as that from the army telling the public about its modus operandi in deployment of troops without ethnic bias and consideration may not be nonideal but never better than investigation of the claims seen in the two video materials, emphasising that it is the best professional way to boost public trust in the military of a country where citizens had once woken up to the news of invasion of premium academic institution of the same military by non-state actors.
It called on the Nigerian Army to understand that it is a creation of the law and belongs to the people. A situation like this should be a wake-up call for it to up its game, recalling how far loss of confidence in the military youth in Uturu staged a protest calling for removal of military checkpoints and formations in their land as such presence has not ended crime.
FENRAD in the release, reminded Abia State and federal governments that the primary duty of any entity deserving of the name is ensuring the ‘security and welfare of citizens’. reiterating that government that fails to live up to that mandate does not only fail its people but international standards as protection of lives and property remains one of the “duties” of a state.
FENRAD also called on traditional rulers, locals, Fulani settlers, law enforcement agencies and civil society groups to work assiduously and combinedly for a better result; kind that guarantees a win-win for all.
It also reminded the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, Ph.D, on the need to engage community leaders of some of the mentioned areas, leaders of Lokpanta Fulani settler encampment and the heads of various security agencies in Abia state, else his claim of having provided statewide security would go as a hollow claim.
The Civil Society Group, revealed that so far, Umunneochi LGA of Abia State, Arondizuogu in Imo State, Leru, Uturu, Okigwe and other such boundary communities in Abia State have become axis of evil, flashpoints of kidnap by alleged Fulani herders.
FENRAD also called on Nigeria Army to investigate the claims that its men and officers are in cahoots with kidnappers in Umunneochi LGA and also on the police to also investigate the statement credited to its officer rather than resort to ‘disciplinary measure.’ The abduction of the Prelate and his co-travellers should be the last straw.