GLOBAL watchdog, Amnesty International (AI), on Sunday issued a statement detailing alleged raids of a community in Rivers State by the combined force of the Nigerian army, navy and the police.
The organisation says it is appalled by the reports of the “invasion and indiscriminate attacks by the Nigerian military on Bodo community in the Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State on Wednesday 7 December 2022.”
The statement further claimed that before the latest attack, a previous raid had taken place last month (November) and the suspicion was that the raids were retaliatory, following the deposition of the community’s traditional ruler by his people.
The director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho argued that “the military’s invasion of Bodo community is a clear violation of Nigeria’s obligation under international human rights law, and international conventions to which it has subscribed. All those involved in this violation must be held accountable and the invasion must end immediately.”
According to the statement, “Nigerian authorities must also ensure adequate reparations for the victims, including their families. The wanton use of the military in policing civil disturbances in almost all cases leads to human rights violations, as it is happening in Bodo community. The police must be instructed, trained and equipped to deal with restive situations in line with international law and standards.”
Recalling witnesses’ claims, AI quoted the new paramount regent of Bodo Community, Joseph Kpai, as saying; “The army, police and navy invaded the Bodo community. The claim they are making against us is that we have guns. On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, the police, navy, and army came in the morning and shot sporadically, and because of that, about four persons are lying critically ill and some people were also arrested, and we do not know their whereabouts.
“On December 7 attack, the following people were arrested: Michael Zabbey (dumb), Peter Kogbara, Vikere Joseph, Miriam Paago, Victor Filima (a minor) and Nekabari Gbarato. Their whereabouts is still unknown. And the threat is that they are going to come back again. As a community, we do not know what to do,” he reportedly said.
The statement quoted other unnamed eyewitnesses as telling Amnesty International that on the day of the attack, some were shot in the stomach and some in the legs.
“The Bodo community alleged that this is not the first time that a combined team of the police, navy, and army is invading the community. In the November invasion, the military came at night and some people were allegedly abducted. Those abducted include Pius Menega, Clement Vulasi, Lekie Naaduuna, Lucky Visa, James Ntete, Paul Zabbey, and two others,” AI noted.
Relying on media reports to connect the raids, the organisation noted that “the invasion of the community may be connected to a protest on October 4, 2022, which allegedly led to the dethronement of the traditional ruler of Bodo Community, King John Berebon
“Following the alleged dethronement, Bodo people reportedly marched to the Gokana Local Government secretariat and the palace of Gberemene Gokana to inform the traditional institution that the people of Bodo had appointed Joseph Kpai as the new paramount regent.
“The people of Bodo community are victims of many years of environmental catastrophes as result of activities of oil companies. Oil spills have left many people with illnesses while water and trees are also contaminated.
“Amnesty International calls on the authorities to institute independent investigations into the alleged invasion and attacks on Bodo community and prosecute perpetrators of such grave human rights violations” the statement concluded."