Anger in the south east over reported relocation of boko haram suspects to Anambra State

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captured Boko haram fighter

The relocation of boko haram terror suspects to prison facilities in Anambra state has generated widespread anger and tension in the south east region and among the people from the region.

Traders from Awka and Onitsha demonstrated last week when the story leaked forcing Governor Willie Obiano to issue a press statement denying his involvement in the relocation saga.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, James Eze, the Governor who described Anambra state as one of the most peaceful across the nation, noted that the relocation of suspects to his state will raise fears and disrupt the peace of the state, hence, the need to resist such purported action.

He further revealed that the Ekwulobia Prisons is not a Maximum Security Prison and therefore cannot be used for convicted criminals. Citing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp of the US as an example, Governor Obiano explained that criminals and convicts are placed in well fortified buildings and the Ekwulobia Maximum Prison did not meet up with that standard.

The Governor further stated that the Ekwulobia prison which houses only 85 inmates already has about 135 inmates which makes it impossible to house more inmates, adding that the convicts if sent to the state will a grave danger for the state.

Governor Obiano who ensured a peaceful demonstration in the state on Saturday June 27, said he has met with relevant authorities to stop such from happening. He called on all Anambra indigenes and Igbo across the country to remain calm to avoid a break down of law and order.

Our reporter who visited Ekwulobia and Aguata prison facilities located in Anambra State confirmed movement of about 47 high value prisoners to the Ekwulobia facility but could not ascertain if they were suspected members of the dreaded Boko Haram group. The new detainees were said to have arrived Sunday night amidst tight security. At Aguata prison facility, a staff of the prison service informed our reporter that they also received new inmates on Sunday night under heavy security cover.

Reacting to the development, an Igbo socio-cultural organization, Oganiru Ndigbo Foundation, condemned the relocation of the terrorism suspects to the south east and demanded an immediate reversal of the policy. In a statement released to Factnewsonline, the Leader of the group also know as Igboville, Barr Emeka Maduewesi, described the relocation as a veiled attempt to drag Ndigbo into the terrorist web and demanded an immediate reversal of the program.

The full statement by the group is as follows:

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM MEMBERS OF IGBOVILLE ON 29TH JUNE 2015.

We, the members of Igboville (aka Oganiru Ndigbo Foundation), wish to condemn in the strongest term possible, the reported relocation/transfer of Boko Haram terror suspects to Ekwulobia minimum security prison in Anambra state. We also reject any other planned relocation of terror suspects to prison facilities in the south-east of Nigeria.

It is particularly horrifying that the terror suspects reportedly transferred (or billed to be transferred) to this prison facility located in the peaceful town of Ekwulobia are combatants captured in the battlefield in contrast to non-battlefield terrorists, arrested from homes, in street corners, or at the borders, and adjudged as not yet fully radicalized.

This reckless and ill-conceived decision by the Federal authorities is viewed by NDIGBO worldwide as a clandestine move to export terrorism to the southeast of Nigeria, a veiled bid to continue the killing of Igbo Christians, and a means to spread violent Islam to our predominantly Christian population.

It is known globally that the easiest way terrorists recruit their members is through prison radicalization. Extremists whose paths to terrorism began in prison include high-profile terrorists such as Richard Reid, the 2001 “shoe-bomber,” and Muktar Ibrahim, the leader of July 21, 2005, London bombing plot. In France, Safe Bourada, an Algerian originally convicted in 1998 for his involvement in the 1995 Paris metro bombings, was convicted again in 2008 for planning further terrorist attacks in France after a stint in jail. Among those convicted with him were other former convicts whom he met in prison.

In Spain, Mohamed Achraf (also known as Abderrahmane Tahiri), who was convicted in 2007 of being a member of a terrorist organization, recruited others while imprisoned for credit card fraud in Salamanca prison. Furthermore, key leaders in the 2004 Madrid bombing network had themselves been radicalized in Moroccan prisons. Even the leader of the global terror group, IS, was once an American prisoner believed to have been further radicalized while in custody in Iraq.

In the United States, where domestic radicalization has generally lagged behind Europe, there is now growing evidence of prison radicalization which made President Obama to mute the idea of building more prison facilities outside urban cities where terror suspects would be kept. In 2009, for instance, Kevin James, who founded the Jami`at al-Islam al-Sahih terrorist group while in a California prison, was convicted after admitting planning attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in Los Angeles. It is instructive to note that even with its entire fabled security network and system, the United States of America resorted to keeping terror suspects in the isolated Guantanamo Bay facility outside mainland America.

While few of these terrorists adopted extreme Islamist beliefs solely as the result of their time in prison, their prison experiences significantly accelerated their radicalization through isolating them from mainstream society where they committed crimes not in same category with terrorism while at the same time exposing them to ideologies to which they ultimately proved highly vulnerable. It is important; therefore, to understand that very high-risk prisoners and other awaiting trial suspects under the category of terrorists are required to be segregated effectively from the ordinary prisoners within the prison system to avoid radicalization and consequent spread of terror.

We are not also forgetting the chances of fellow terrorists coming to rescue their evil compatriots in a prison that has less capacity to monitor such extremist group in an overcrowded prison. Recently, there have been jailbreaks in maximum security facilities in Nigeria and the rest of the world, with the recent Clinton Correctional Center jailbreak still fresh. These two major considerations put Ekwulobia prison and the neighborhood in great danger of witnessing what happened in Yemen where a city was set ablaze when suspected al-Qaeda terrorists liberated inmates of Mukalla prison.

Given the foregoing, we therefore wish to, on behalf of Igbo professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora, demand the following from the Federal Government of Nigeria:

1. The immediate halt to any plan to transfer Boko Haram terror suspects to any prison in the southeast.

2. That those already relocated to the East be repatriated back to wherever they are came from or other more secured facilities scattered all over the northern parts of the country.

3. That terror suspects be kept in isolated detention with heavy security in place to monitor their activities 24/7. Terrorists are not put in a regular prison globally. Ekwulobia Prison or any southeast prison does not fall into this category. The lack of infrastructure in the southeast is not only on the road but also on prison facilities.

4. That the federal government ensures adequate compensation for any loss of actual and potential investors this dangerous decision may have particularly caused Anambra state, which the current and previous state governors have laboured without much federal support to attract.

5. That the Federal government take measures to ensure that the activities of the Boko Haram terror group remains confined within the northeast ground zero and defeated there rather than being allowed to spread to other parts of the country.

6. That as against spreading terror to us, the Federal Government should take special measures to spread development to the eastern part of Nigeria that has suffered neglect under successive governments.

7. Particularly observing that there was no compensation to the victims of the Biafran war, we demand that every plan to compensate the victims of Boko Haram Islamic insurgency must also include Ndigbo living in the north that have suffered enormous losses in the hands of the group and other religious extremists. It is important we view with suspicion the talks of compensation and rebuilding of the areas affected by Boko Haram insurgency. Any attempt to devote special funds to the rebuilding of the affected areas to the detriment of equally urgent development needs in the South East will amount to double standard.

8. We wish to specially note the spike in crime rate in the south east and hereby demand that the government take necessary measures to safeguard every part of the country. The recent removal of soldiers from patrol duties and check points in the East and other parts of Nigeria is having a disproportionately high adverse effect on the security of the zone and we wish to call on the government to reinstate the soldiers and take other necessary measures to ensure security of lives and properties of our people.

While we continue to believe in a united and indivisible Nigeria, Ndigbo will view any attempt to introduce terrorism to our homeland through subterfuge as an act of declaration of war. We therefore wish to alert the international community and civil society groups about this unfolding sinister plot, intended to provoke confrontation between the Nigerian state and the peace loving people of South East Nigeria.

Those targeting Ndigbo with policies like exporting terrorism to the southeast are basically targeting the ONE Nigeria concept. We should not allow them to win. But if the government goes ahead to implement this potentially destructive policy, we will be left with no option than to support any measure that protects our rights to live peacefully as Nigerian citizens and members of humanity.

God Bless Igboville

God Bless Ndigbo

God Bless Nigeria.

Signed: IGBOVILLE ADMIN

When contacted, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Igariwey said that the organization was currently verifying the story. According to him; "We are still seeking confirmation of the story. Ohanaeze will not act on rumours but will react if confirmed. We don't need such dangerous exposures in Igboland or anywhere else outside the theatre of conflict. Boko Haram and its fallouts must be confined within the theatre of operation."

Meanwhile traders at Onitsha are getting set to continue their protests against the relocation. They have also contacted other traders associations at Aba and Lagos to join the protest against what they described as an "act of wickedness by the authorities against Ndigbo"


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