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Biafra: Nigerian forces still target, kill civilians in eastern region

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A Nigerian army convoy on its way to the frontline in Borno state. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

OWERRI — Houses are being razed in Nigeria’s Imo state as government forces kill and arrest civilians in a bid to quell secessionist activities in eastern Nigeria.

No fewer than 23 houses were razed by Nigerian forces between 4 and 26 June 2021 in Imo State and other parts of the eastern region, where unidentified assailants carried out a series of attacks against police officers and electoral body commission facilities.

Police had hurriedly accused a local vigilante group, Eastern Security Network (ESN) of being responsible for the attacks, but the non-state security group and some elders in the Biafra region denied the allegation.

The Nigerian forces claim which said its operations and ongoing raid are aimed at tracking down and decisively dealing with members of the ESN, alongside a separatist group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB) which the Nigerian government had vowed to “crush”, has transformed to look more like genocide as they continue to target the homes of civilians, arrest and kill civilians they claim to be “terrorists”.

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On June 11, 2021; Igbo Elders Council, condemned the attacks on civilians in the region, and called for urgent action to stop the “genocide”.

“Security agencies now indiscriminately invade private homes at odd hours, in the same guise of fishing out presumed IPOB and ESN members. They arrest men and sometimes shoot innocent and hapless youths,” said Chairman of the group, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who is a former governor of Anambra State.

Meanwhile, residents confirmed to Gazette Africa that most of the razed houses are not hiding places for ESN, as state forces claim.

“Most of those arrested are not members of the ESN, the houses and properties they destroy do not belong to the ESN. They are just the houses and properties of families in the community who are now displaced,” said a native whose village was raided last week.

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A lawyer, Jude Lekan, described the military raid in the eastern region of Nigeria as a state-sponsored provocation and ethnic genocide against the Igbo people following their quest for an independent state known as Biafra.

“Why is the police and military too desperate to crush ESN and the nonviolent members of the IPOB when violent Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists are causing insecurity in Nigeria by kidnapping, killing dozens civilians, including soldiers, police, and are walking freely without being touched?. The truth is, there is more to this, it is genocide to silence the Igbo people simply because they are demanding Biafra, ”Lekan said.

Aloy Ejimakor, a lawyer and expert in international law, said government forces killed more civilians in the ongoing raid than Fulani jihadist herders killed in the Biafra region.

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“NDIGBO have lost more lives from the ongoing extrajudicial killings in SE than it could’ve lost in the same period from HERDSMEN attacks. I’ve said it before but let me say it again: Nigeria is the reason for Biafra,” Ejimakor said via a tweet obtained by Gazette Africa.

Gazette Africa has gathered from natives whose family members were been wrongly arrested and airlifted to Abuja, that the police authorities are demanding no less than 1.5 million naira to release the victims.

Despite evidence, testimony and reports of wrongdoing, Faruk Yahaya, head of the Nigerian army, on June 24, 2021, ordered soldiers deployed in Imo and other parts of the Biafra region to redouble their efforts in the fight against the separatist group IPOB, of which the majority of civilians in the region are members.

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Markets, roads closed in southeast Nigeria in solidarity with Kanu

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Cemetery market in Aba, Abia State

Residents of south-eastern Nigeria have closed markets and some entry points into cities in solidarity with Biafran pro-independence leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is now before the Federal High Court in Abuja for trial.

Some international markets in Abia, Onitsha, Nnewi and others, including entry points to some cities, were closed in the early hours of Monday July 26, 2021.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

Nnamdi Kanu

He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the Nigeria.

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US citizens arrested in Nigeria for taking photos during Kanu’s trial

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Nigeria's Department of State Services personnel

ABUJA — Two foreigners suspected of being American journalists were arrested Monday July 26 in Nigeria for having taken photos on the eve of the trial of Biafran pro- independence leader Nnamdi Kanu.

According to the report, the two men were arrested by the country’s secret service — Department of State Services at a hotel, Treasure Suites, opposite the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The Peoples Gazette reports that a phone belonging to another man in the hotel was seized by the DSS, who accuses him of following the trial of the separatist leader from the hotel.

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“They even entered the hotel and got the manager to show them their CCTV footage to be able to locate one of the men and seized his phone,” a police officer told Peoples Gazette at the scene.

The Nigerian had announced banned on international and other media from covering the trial of Mr. Kanu in court.

A statement signed by Chief Information Officer, Catherine Oby Christopher on Monday noted that the DSS has only accredited 10 Nigerian media organizations, namely: ThisDay, Premium Times, The Nation, Daily Independent, The Herald, National Television Authority , Continental Television, African Independent Television, Daily Post and Channels Television.

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No reason was given by authorities who refused to comment on the sudden violation of press freedom and citizens’ rights to monitor a trial.

Nnamdi Kanu, human rights activist is currently being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after being seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.

The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

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Man accused of trying to kill Mali president dies in custody

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Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing "very well", downplaying the significance of the assault.

A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.

“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.

It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.

A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Goita was whisked away by his security detail, and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.

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“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.

“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”

His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.

The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.

His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.

Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.

On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.

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– Political instability –

The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over graft and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and premier Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.

In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.

As the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS piled on pressure, Goita vowed the government would uphold all commitments and pledged to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

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Mali’s neighbours and allies have been viewing the crisis with disquiet, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency that is unfurling across the Sahel region.

The bloody campaign erupted in the north of Mali in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

France, the mainstay of the anti-jihadist operation, has been especially critical of the military takeover in Mali.

It suspended military cooperation after the second coup and then announced a major drawdown of its 5,100-man Barkhane mission.

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