Human Rights Group to Nigeria Security Agents After Priest’s Kidnapping: ‘Act or Resign’

Between Sept. 16-17 more than 30 passengers and others on the road were abducted by jihadist Fulani herdsmen.

A road in Enugu State, Nigeria.
A road in Enugu State, Nigeria. (photo: Courtesy photo / International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety))

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has condemned the Sept. 16-17 kidnapping of more than 30 people across Nigeria’s Enugu State, including a Catholic priest, and called on police officials in the Nigerian state to either act on the lack of security in the region or leave office.

Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide was abducted Sept. 17 on his way back to St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish in the Enugu Diocese, where he serves as parish priest. A prayer appeal has been sent out for the priest’s safe release. Okide is among dozens of people who were taken by armed Fulani bandits in separate locations within Enugu State.

Intersociety condemned the police force in Enugu for “looking the other way” and “choosing to be deaf” as Islamist Fulanis wreak havoc on Christian populations in the Nigerian state and in the entire southeast region of the West African country.

Instead, the authorities are busy killing innocent civilians in the name of a crackdown on the “sit-at-home” order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety said in a Sept. 19 report sent to ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa.

“The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law is deeply shocked and dismayed that more than 30 defenseless citizens of the southeast were abducted in two days in three different locations in Enugu State by the jihadist Fulani herdsmen, with the Enugu State Police Command … looking the other [way] and choosing to be deaf,” said officials of Intersociety led by their board chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi. 

Those whom Intersociety want out of office for laxity amid the rampant attacks are Enugu State Commissioner of Police Kanayo Uzuegbu; Anambra Commissioner of Police Tony Olofu; and General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army Maj. Gen. Hassan Taiwo Dada.

The three must tackle security challenges in Enugu State “without being selective and partisan as widely perceived or seen as errand boys of the jihadist Fulani herdsmen,” the human rights activists said.

In reference to the kidnappings in Enugu, they added: “The trio must as a matter of uttermost urgency and extreme public importance speak out including addressing a joint or separate press conferences so as to keep the southeasterners abreast of the abductions and efforts put in place, if any, to rescue the victims and apprehend the jihadist Fulani herdsmen responsible.”

Between Sept. 16-17 more than 30 passengers and others on the road were abducted by jihadist Fulani herdsmen. 

Intersociety reported that the abductions took place in at least three different locations, including Edem-Nrobo-Ezikolo-Abbi Road in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, where armed jihadists on Sept. 16 attacked a passenger bus that was traveling to the town of Nsukka.

The jihadists are also said to have killed one civilian in Ezikolo-Abbi, shot and wounded others, and abducted several others into the nearby forests. 

On Sept. 17, another group of jihadist Fulani herdsmen launched an attack on a bus that was carrying Father Okide and several other passengers, abducting the Catholic priest and six others, according to the Intersociety officials. 

Intersociety called for action to address the lack of security specifically in Enugu, saying: “The unchecked activities of the jihadist Fulani herdsmen in the southeast have not only risen to an apogee but also mandatorily required that the trio of Enugu State commissioner[s] of police … unmask and go after the jihadists.”

They challenge those in charge of security in Enugu to “retire voluntarily from the army and the police” if they cannot live up to what is expected of them.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.