The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) is calling for a full investigation into the killing of at least eight persons in Ogoniland during last week’s bloody governorship and state assembly elections in Rivers State.
MOSOP’s assessment of the alleged brutality and killings conclude that the violence against innocent Ogoni citizens reflects a state policy.
For MOSOP President, Fegalo Nsuke, who is pressing for a probe, ‘’we consider these crimes very painful, shameful, unfortunate and a representation of our depreciated values as a country.’’
The agitation by the Ogoni people is coming as there were images and videos online of soldiers harassing and hijacking ballot boxes, a seeming indication that the military was abusing their powers in the Rivers State elections.
Already, the United Kingdom in a statement accused the military of undue involvement in the governorship election in Rivers.
But the Army spokesperson said on Monday that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by Nigerian forces are unfounded. “Any allegation against the Nigerian Army must be confirmed from appropriate quarters before jumping to conclusions, Sagir Musa, a Colonel said.
He described the allegations as baseless, untrue and capable of misleading unsuspected members of the public: ‘’The Nigerian Army wishes to state that the statement is totally baseless, untrue and, therefore, capable of misleading unsuspected members of the public, especially when there is no credible record of such involvement any where in Nigeria before, during and after the 2019 elections.
The EU observer mission on Monday also accused the Nigerian Army of not creating equality of opportunity in the River election. Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel.
For the Head of the EU observer mission, Maria Arena, ‘’this lack of access for observers compromises transparency and trust in the process’’.
The Army is part of the military criticised for rampant human rights abuses, by the international community and organisations are at the centre of voter fraud in the volatile Rivers elections.
The military’s alleged abuse of power and lack of accountability is not new. Over the years, they have shown a stunning lack of professionalism, have engaged in gross human rights violations and suffer from high rates of soldiers being absent without leave on the front lines of the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
In the mean time, the Ogoni people say they are deeply saddened that people got killed during the process of exercising their rights to vote. ‘’It is quite regrettable that these killings and torture happened not just publicly in the full glare of security personnel.whose primary responsibility is to protect the citizens, they happened with the active involvement of the security-men especially the Police.
‘’We regret that Ogoniland has been turned into a shooting zone for the exercise of military dexterity and probably turned into an area of dominant military impunity where citizens life mean little or nothing and security forces display the military might in our country..
‘’We warn that this trend is becoming alarming and seriously worsening the conditions of our people and we feel dejected and hated by the Nigerian state each time state security personnel who should be protecting us are deployed to unleash terror on our people.
‘’The experience of the Ogoni people during the past elections shows that Ogoni were marked for the worst in Nigeria. We call on all men and women of goodwill to act now, condemn the killings and urge the Nigerian government to end the endless deployment of fierce military men to Ogoniland even against peaceful protests.
‘’We call for a public probe into these killings and cases of brutality with the hope that those responsible will be brought to account for their deeds. MOSOP strongly condemn the shooting of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe, the brutalities metted on many innocent Ogoni citizens, some of whom have been sent to early graves and demand for a public probe into these killings especially the involvement of the Police’’, Nsuke said.