On Wednesday, it was announced that the Nigerian Army released 107 of the 112 residents of Obigbo in Rivers State who were arrested in late 2020. It was also learnt that the other five arrested had died while in incarceration.
The 112 residents, all of Igbo origin, were arrested between November and December 2020, after claims that Igbo youth believed to be IPOB members allegedly clashed with those from the North, including the Hausa and the Fulani, during the #EndSARS protest of October 2020.
The clash was reported to have resulted in the death of eight people and the burning of three police stations.
Below is a timeline of the events that followed:
On October 21, 2020, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State imposed a 24-hour curfew on the entire Oyigbo LGA, under which Obigbo belonged, in a bid to put an end to the crisis in Obigbo. He also banned the activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the area.
BOUNTY ON STANLEY MAGBERE
Three days later, on October 24, 2020, he announced a bounty of N50million on Stanley Mgbere, an alleged IPOB leader in the area who was believed to have played a major role in the Obigbo crisis. He also directed security agencies in the state to arrest all other persons that were involved in the crisis.
COUNTER-BOUNTY BY KANU ON WIKE
However, 24 hours after Wike’s announcement, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, placed a bounty of N100 million on the Governor himself, in reaction to the government’s earlier bounty.
PROSCRIPTION OF IPOB
On October 29, 2020, Wike signed an executive order to reinforce the ban on IPOB and its activities in the state.
“This is clearly a terrorist group which existence, creed, mission and activities are strongly denounced even by the government and peoples of South-Eastern States of the country,” he said in his statement.
READ ALSO: Nine Months After, 107 Obigbo Youth Arrested by Soldiers Regain Freedom
BLOODY INVASION OF OBIGBO BY ‘UNKOWN’ SOLDIERS
What followed in November 2020 were reports of a bloody invasion of Obigbo by men of the Nigerian Army. During the invasion, it was alleged that the soldiers went from house to house, killing and maiming anyone they could see. Their victims were also branded IPOB members.
In some quarters, the action was termed a genocide.
However, the Nigerian Army denied any involvement in the killings. Wike himself denied any involvement in the killings.
PUBLIC OUTCRY AND CLAIMS OF GENOCIDE
In a swift reaction, Amnesty International and other civil liberty organizations came out to condemn the actions of the Army.
“Amnesty International is receiving disturbing information from Oyigbo, Rivers State,” the organisation had stated in a November 1 tweet.
“Despite the existing curfew, soldiers are allegedly invading homes. Some residents reported seeing dead bodies on the streets, allegedly shot by soldiers. We are calling on the military to exercise restraint and stop the killings.”
Igbo leaders and associations, both local and international, also condemned the action, calling it a deliberate attack on the Igbo race.
ARREST OF OBIGBO RESIDENTS
At the period of the alleged military attack, many residents of Obigbo were also reported to have been abducted by the Nigerian Army and taken to Nigeria Army’s Alpha Military Commando Base in Suleja, Niger State.
It was later revealed that this particular set of abductees had been accounted for, and that they were 112 in total. On the whole, a total of 550 Obigbo residents were reported to have been abducted, out of which 416 have been released so far.
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