Ohanaeze, Okorie seek probe of alleged killing of IPOB members in Port Harcourt
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday called for probe of the alleged killing of protesting members of Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital last week.
Speaking to The Guardian, the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr) said that given the serious national security implications of the development, Ohanaeze would like the Federal Government to appoint an independent judicial panel of inquiry into the alleged killings.
Nwodo wondered: “Was the IPOB demonstration an unlawful assembly? Did IPOB require a police permit to demonstrate? Was IPOB violent in any manner that threatened public peace and order? Does possession of Biafran flags and coat of arms per se constitute conspiracy to commit treasonable felony?
“Whereas some of these issues are subjudice, it is important in the public interest to note as follows: The correct position of the law in Nigeria is that any curtailment of the right of the citizens to freely associate and assemble for lawful purpose is unconstitutional. It is unnecessary for police permit to be first had and obtained, prior to any assembly, subject of course to section 70 of the Criminal Code (See IGP V ANPP (2008) WRN 65; Anambra V AG Federation (2005) NWLR (PT 572) 616 per UWAIS JSC. Any attempt to deal with demonstrations of IPOB in a manner different from treatment of Boko Haram members, Niger Delta Avengers, Fulani Herdsmen and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) will be discriminatory and unfair.
Also, the National Chairman of United Peoples Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie urged President Muhammadu Buhari government to investigate all the unwarranted killing of Igbo men and women.
Okorie said: “Security agencies must be ordered to stop shooting unarmed, non-violent persons who are only exercising their inalienable right of freedom of association. This is the only way the palpable tension in the country today can be doused. There is only a tiny line between violence and non-violence. It may just require a little extra provocation to cross the Rubicon.
According to Okorie, “It is public knowledge that the organisers of the peaceful rally wrote the police authorities to notify them about their legitimate intentions and to obtain their permission. It is on record that the police in turn replied to their letter denying them of their constitutional right of freedom of assembly.”