Following the alleged massacre of Nigerian youths at Lekki Toll gate in Lagos during the Endsars protests against police brutality and extra-judicial killings, other states in Nigeria witnessed a series of riots and the killing of both police officers and innocent civilians. As the crisis spread beyond the capital cities to local government areas, State governors were mandated to bring the situation under control by all means, including the use of force.

In Rivers State, the Governor reportedly went hard on the people, especially, those he had termed “enemies of the state.” Particularly, the Governor of Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike pointed accusing fingers at the members of a separatist group in the South-East, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as those behind the killings of security agents and residents of Oyigbo local government area of the State. This occurred between 21st October and 4th November 2020. Consequently, a manhunt was launched to find the perpetrators of these crimes and especially, all members of the group. According to Emma Powerful, the spokesperson for IPOB, Governor Nyesom Wike had instructed men of the Nigerian security agencies to “massacre the people of the area,” an allegation the governor denied. Emma Powerful said in a statement, which Sahara Reporters obtained, “Innocent Igbo youths were killed in cold blood last year by Governor Nyesom Wike in Obigbo LGA of Rivers State.”

It was reported in the media that no fewer than 50 persons were killed and that more than 80 others were injured. The Police and the Army arrested many while some “disappeared” when members of the Joint Task Force of the Nigerian Army and Police, invaded Oyigbo town, allegedly killing, harassing, and raping innocent people in the communities.

One of the victims of these actions by the police is a woman called Nkechinyere Scholastica Chukwuemeka who until that horrible incident lived in Oyigbo, Rivers State. The State accused her, along with other members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Igbo people who live in Oyigbo of being the organizers of the Endsars protest in the area. Our reporter gathered that the Military was sent to raid, arrest and shoot at sight all IPOB members and Igbo youths found in Oyigbo.

Nkechinyere, who narrated her ordeal to our reporter in Sapele, said that Monday, November 2, 2020, was a dark day in her life, and in Oyigbo, Rivers State when soldiers descended on innocent civilians, especially anyone suspected to be a member of IPOB. She said the Military also invaded her house at night and tried to extract information and documents from her.

 She was harassed and forced to bring what the soldiers termed, “the hidden documents” which included names and contacts of IPOB members in her possession.  They claimed that, as the secretary of the IPOB Oyigbo Express zone, she must have them. While she was responding to them, telling them she had no such “hidden IPOB documents”, they continued to beat her up, trying to extract a confession from her. She could recall one of her tormentors saying. ‘Since she didn’t want to say the truth, they would force it out of her.   She alleged that they forcefully held her hands behind her back, and in her words, “they choked me and forced my mouth open, and poured a concoction down my throat, and immediately I started vomiting and fell unconscious”. The next time she would open her eyes, she was in a hospital in Aba, – a nearby city about 30 kilometres from Oyigbo. She was told that some kind-hearted Nigerians had brought her there.

Mr Stanley Mgbere – Declared wanted by Gov Wike

Nkechinyere Scholastica Chukwuemeka is not the only one with such a terrifying encounter with men of the Nigerian security forces. IPOB Spokesman said that they tortured some Igbo youths, while others were arrested and taken to unknown destinations and some others were killed. This he said they did in retaliation for the killing of their soldiers, allegedly by IPOB members. One Mr Stanley Mgbere, believed to be the Oyigbo leader of the proscribed group was declared wanted by Gov Nyesom Wike, with a bounty of N50 million on his head.

Apostle Hope Igwe, the founder of Jerusalem Fire Ministry located in Ogoni Camp in Oyigbo also met his death in the hands of the brutal soldiers. His wife narrated that he was shot on October 23, 2020, near a ConOil filling station. The widow, Mrs Amara Igwe, confirmed that her brother was also killed on that same day.

Stanley Mgbere – Declared wanted by Gov Wike

Queen Nwazuo and her Fiance – Killed by Soldiers

Queen Nwazuo, a 29-year-old student of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba and a resident of Oyigbo was shot by policemen attached to the Joint Task Force who were deployed to the town after six soldiers were murdered and police stations burnt by hoodlums.  

Several deaths and arrests were reported, but some were not. The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a human rights organization confirmed the killing of not less than 50 people during the crises and many more after the day. The Chairman of the organization, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, in his statement blamed it on the Governor who he said invited and aided the military to carry out extra judiciary killings. Many were not lucky to survive, unlike Nkechinyere who was rushed to a hospital in Aba after she passed out.

Speaking with pain and emotion, Nkechinyere narrated how she was treated in the hospital and on the 12th of November, 2020 she moved to Sapele, in Delta State to be with her sponsor. While recuperating there, she said she heard the stories of other victims who were arrested and those who were able to run away but were now declared wanted by the Nigerian Government, through the military and Police. She knew she was one of those being sought by men of the Nigerian armed forces. As far as she was concerned, she was not safe, as her name had already been given to the police and the army for arrest or even death.

A Neighbour at her residence in Oyigbo hinted to her that a fellow Neighbour was arrested, tortured and forced to give out her location in Sapele. She had no choice but to keep hiding until she felt safer to continue her normal life.

The #Endsars protest was all about such intimidation by security forces and police brutality, which the Nigerian youths are asking the Federal government to address.



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