900 killed, 700 wounded, 300 disappeared in Imo within 2 years – Group tells ICC

Uzodimma bans weed smoking, presents over 130 vehicles, gadgets to security agencies

International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has taken legal action against Governor Hope Uzodimma, former Inspector General of Police Alkali Baba, former Chief of Army Staff Faruk Yahaya, and 29 others, along with 32 former and current public office holders.

The organization has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing them of senseless killings in Imo State and other alleged crimes against humanity.

The statement, signed by several members of Intersociety, including Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Chidinma Udegbunam, Ndidiamaka Catherine Bernard, and Ositadinma Agu, was made available to Sundiata Post in Abuja.

According to the 13-page document filed before the ICC, the crimes against humanity are believed to have occurred in Imo State from January 2021 to May 2023. The complaint, addressed to ICC Prosecutor Mr Karim A.A. Khan QC, was filed by Intersociety and the families of the victims, represented by OKEKE ATTORNEYS from South Africa, led by Nigeria’s Barr Austin Okeke, an international human rights lawyer.

The filed Criminal Complaint, titled “Notice Of Intention To File A (Criminal) Complaint And Request For The Initiation Of An Investigation Into Crimes Against Humanity In Imo State, Nigeria Pursuant To Articles 13(c), 15 and 53 Of The Rome Statute based on Information On The Crimes Within The Jurisdiction Of The International Criminal Court ‘ICC’,” alleges extrajudicial killings, torture, physical assaults, abductions, and other gross abuses of human rights in Imo State. It further states that the Nigerian state organs and coercive systems have become instruments of such violations, engaging in arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, mass murder, and destruction of civilian properties.

The document demanded an end to the killings and property violence in Imo State and called for the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the state and non-state actors involved, including those who aided and abetted the crimes.

The Office of the ICC Prosecutor has received and acknowledged the filed Criminal Complaint under the reference “INTER-SOCIETY AND OTHERS VS HOPE UZODINMA OF IMO STATE, NIGERIA AND OTHERS.”

In a previous Special Research and Investigative Report on Imo by Intersociety, it was found that from January 2021 to May 2023, under Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration, security forces and allied militias killed 900 unarmed citizens, wounded 700, arbitrarily arrested and detained 3,500, extorted 1,400, disappeared 300, burned down 1,200 civilian houses, and displaced 30,000 people. Non-state actors, such as Fulani jihadists, counterfeit agitators, death squads, and street violent criminal entities, were responsible for killing 700 individuals and abducting 900.

The killings and burning of civilian houses have continued in Imo State, with over 40 lives lost and 200 civilian dwellings destroyed in the past month alone. The worst-hit area is Izombe and its neighbouring communities and villages in Oguta Local Government Area. Indigenes of Amakpurudere town in Izombe Community have accused security operatives of murdering five individuals and burning down more than 170 buildings in the oil-bearing area within the last two weeks.

Intersociety’s legal action aims to expose those responsible for the killings, abductions, disappearances, torture, and destruction of properties and seek justice for the victims.