By Ikeugonna Eleke
A human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has stated that the military arrested the wrong persons during the raid in Orlu, Imo State, in search of members of Eastern Security Network (ESN).
A press statement signed by the chairman, board of trustees of Intersociety, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, stated the claims by the military that those arrested were members of Nnamdi Kanu’s security arm, ESN, were false.
The group said it had investigated the persons publicly paraded by the military and found the claims to be false, adding that while some of the suspects were mentally ill, plus persons arrested from a home where they were undergoing treatment, others were Christian clerics who ran the home.
The group said, ‘The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law is strongly calling for immediate discharge and acquittal of those paraded recently by the Nigerian Army, 82 Division in Enugu and its satellite formations: the 34 Brigade, Owerri and the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha.
‘To be released unconditionally, too, are others abducted and presently languishing in illegal army and police cells, numbering over 30. For the nine abductees arraigned and remanded, charges against them concocted by the arraigning authorities must be withdrawn and they must be discharged and acquitted.’
The detainees, numbering over 33, were recently paraded by the Nigerian Army and labeled IPOB/ESN terrorists and murderers who recently killed soldiers and innocent civilians in Orlu.
The group said claims by the army that the suspects were arrested with rifles and Biafra insignias in Orlu and environs were all untrue.
‘On the contrary, investigations carried out by Intersociety clearly shows that most, if not all the paraded citizens, are innocent and defenseless citizens abducted in their homes, church sanctuaries and other quiet places in Orlu, Njaba, Orsu and Oru Eastern Local Government Areas of Imo State and some parts of Ihiala and Nnewi South Local Government Areas of Anambra State.
‘They include Christian clerics of the African Instituted Churches, a branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and some mentally challenged citizens. The abducted and paraded included nine persons secretly arraigned last week Friday, 19th February, 2021, at the Magistrate Court 16 in Owerri, Imo State, labeled, “murderers of soldiers in Orlu”, and remanded in prison or correctional custody.’
The group which said it had extensively investigated those arrested, gave out their names and the condition under which they were arrested, while calling on the military authorities to quickly release them unconditionally.