Says he has buried lots of family members
Our Reporter, New York
Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, has lamented how enforcers of the sit-at-home directive by the Finland-based factional leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Simon Ekpa, are killing residents of the South-East who are going about their legitimate businesses.
The Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Fletcher School of Economics and Political Science made the remarks during an exclusive interview with 90MinuteAfrica’s Rudolf Okonkwo on Sunday.
“I have lost multiple family members,” he lamented. He called out Simon Ekpa for his irresponsibility, which has led to wanton bloodlettings and killings across the region.
The Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (TJPC), explained that any sit-at-home observance should be voluntary, and a case where people are shot at, killed, and desecrated for disobeying the IPOB henchman directive is unacceptable.
Prof. Odinkalu acknowledged the right of people to withdraw their habitual allegiance from any authority as a form of protest, but he insisted that that withdrawal must be exercised voluntarily.
“When you go about shooting people because they are trying to go and survive, that is no longer sit-at-home,” he said, criticising the antics of the secessionist group.
The Law Professor also drew attention to some factors contributing to Simon Ekpa’s and his group’s relevance in the South-East. He alluded that Simon Ekpa is exploiting the lacuna created by government failure in the South-East.
“If the government were relevant to the people, you would not be having an idiot like Simon Ekpa, sitting in Finland with a wife who is white, telling Nigerians what to do.
“It is because the politicians in the region have failed the people; that’s why people like Simon Ekpa are able to do what they are doing,” Odinkalu said.
He, however, revealed that the menace caused by the activities of the secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), only constitutes a fraction of the violence ravaging the South-East region.
Prof. Odinkalu, who has been tracking extrajudicial killings in Nigeria for over two decades, reiterated that organised crime in the South-East is at a proportion that many people have yet to grasp. According to him, the organised crime networks running the region are involved in “drugs, arms, and trafficking of different things.”
He also stated that politicians at very senior levels, both from the South-East and neighboring states, are deeply involved in it.
“So we have transnational drug gangs involved in the situation in the South-East that are bringing in arms into the region.
“Some of the arms also come from other parts of Nigeria using the network of the Lower River Niger, both the main course of the river and its tributaries,” the Human Rights Lawyer revealed.
Emphasising the complexity of the crime networks competing for the control of the south-East region, Chidi Odinkalu alleged that those who are supposed to be involved in trying to stop the illicit activities had become key players in the political economy of transactions around the burgeoning crime networks in the region.
Odinkalu, the Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (TJPC) tasked with identifying the causes of the restiveness and violence in the South-East, also revealed a “political geography” to the killings in the region. He elucidated the main drivers of violence in the South-East to be IPOB-related, drug-related, and cultism.