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One of the Bakassi asked me if I wanted to show them anything. I said: "No, there are only children in there. The Bakassi wanted to shoot. I said: "No, there are children there. The ones you sell? The Bakassi just looked in and left them. Meanwhile I heard the Bakassi outside shooting. I came out with them. Some were behind me, some were in front. I was just wearing my sleeping clothes and wrapper. My husband was just wearing his shorts. They had used his shirt to tie his hands.
Outside, I saw Bakassi everywhere. They were wearing black, with some red material tied on their heads, hands and guns. They had made people in the compound lie face down outside. They were hitting them on their backs with matchets. They took me out towards the gate. I could see my husband and about fifteen people ahead with one Bakassi group. I was about ten or fifteen steps away.
One Bakassi shouted at me: "If you come any further, we'll shoot you down. The one in front said: "Are you deaf? If you move, we'll shoot". I turned again. The one behind me said: "Move". I stood still. I said: "I don't know what to do. I started going back. Some of them ran back in and said I should go along with them. They came into the house.
A car and a jeep were parked outside. They told me to give them the keys and open the gate. I called the boy who locks the gate but there was no answer. One Bakassi moved in a flash and slapped me across the eyes very hard. I fell behind the chair. He pulled me from behind with my wrapper. He was trying to strip me. I pulled the wrapper tightly from the front. He started shaking me and saying: "Who do you think you are? The Bakassi outside were calling them to come out again. They ran off, taking my husband and fifteen other people, all young men.
They took three vehicles. Little did I know they were going to my father-in-law's compound. After they left I heard gunshots for about an hour. Later, I heard that they had picked up my husband's father, elder brother, and another relative. At about noon, I was sitting in the armchair when I heard people outside screaming. They ran in, saying: "The Bakassi have come back!
One had a belt of cartridges on one shoulder and a gun. He asked for the particulars to our cars and said: "Your husband said to tell you to give us those guns. They took the whole file of car particulars and the keys. They took five vehicles. There was no clear command among them, but there was one man they called "Boss.
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Before they left, they said they would search the whole compound for the guns and I should go with them. As we went round, they said: "This land is too big. It is bigger than a governor's. They said: "Your husband is making people mad. They said that was not true, that my husband was turning normal people into mad people. Then they left. I sent someone to report the matter to the police. The governor was away and the deputy governor, commissioner of police, and deputy commissioner of police were not there either.
I asked some friends to call the governor. He promised them he would ask the Bakassi to release my husband. That was on Saturday. Up until Monday my husband was still there. I didn't know what was going on. I sent people to the Bakassi office in Onitsha. They were refused entry. The Bakassi threatened them with knives and sent them away.
They said: "Go away or we'll kill you. I saw the marks on their backs. I didn't go there myself as I was too scared. Eddie Okeke's family and friends spent several days trying to contact the commissioner of police and the governor, by telephone, in writing, and in person. Both officials said they would try to ensure his release, but the family has no evidence that they took any meaningful action. On November 7, the family heard a rumor that the Bakassi Boys were going to kill Eddie Okeke unless the governor, the commissioner of police, or a representative of the president intervened.
They eventually found the commissioner of police and begged him to help.john-und.sandra-gaertner.de/san-baudelio-de-berlanga-una-encrucijada.php
Nigeria: The Bakassi Boys: The Legitimization of Murder and Torture
He claimed he had done everything he could. In the absence of the governor, they then saw the governor's wife who attempted to contact the governor's security adviser, Chuma Nzeribe, and the chairman of the Bakassi Boys, Gilbert Okoye; she did not succeed in reaching them. The protocol officer of the governor claimed that he had gone to the Bakassi Boys but that they had refused to hand over Eddie Okeke.
The family returned to the governor's office on November 8, the day the governor was due to return from his travels. They were prevented from seeing him and the government officials they spoke to would not deliver a letter which had been written by the governor's wife to to the head of the Anambra Vigilante Services. Later, the family was informed that the governor and the commissioner of police had met and that the governor had promised to have Eddie Okeke transferred to the police.
The news of Eddie Okeke's death was never directly communicated to his family. His wife explained how she found out: On Thursday November 9, I heard on the radio that my husband had been burnt and killed at Ochanja Roundabout in Onitsha. It was all over the radio and the papers. Gilbert Okoye was denying that the Bakassi had taken him and the government was claiming it was a mob action.
Up until now, I can't say what happened. I tried to find out but everyone was scared. I wrote several letters, to the inspector general of police, to the president, to the House of Representatives, to the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and others. I just wanted to find out what had happened. I didn't get any reply except one from the House of Representatives expressing the sympathy of the Speaker, and one from the Ministry of Women's Affairs asking me to come to Abuja. I met some people in the ministry. They said they would get back to me. That was five months ago. I have heard nothing since.
The other people who were arrested at the same time as Eddie Okeke were gradually released over the following days, with the exception of a young man in his early twenties, an orphan who had been looked after by Eddie Okeke and who had recently married. His fate remains unknown. Eddie Okeke's eighty-year-old father was released on November 11, but his older brother was only released six weeks later. His father had seen Eddie Okeke a few times during the period that they were both in detention. He said the Bakassi Boys would take his son out of the cell for one or two days, then bring him back; he had been tortured and had machete and other wounds from beatings with gunbutts.
His father said: "The sight of him alone was enough to make you cry. Others who had been detained at the same time as Eddie Okeke described how he was tortured by the Bakassi Boys. A man who shared a cell with him said the Bakassi Boys kicked Okeke in the stomach and hit him with their machetes and guns. They accused him of killing people. Eddie Okeke denied this and said the Bakassi Boys should test him to prove his guilt or innocence.
The Bakassi Boys hit Okeke with a machete and stabbed him all over his body. They said that if he gave them two million naira, they would leave him alone. After they moved Okeke to a different cell, the other detainees could still hear him being interrogated and tortured. Some of those detained with Eddie Okeke confirmed that the governor of Anambra, his adviser Chuma Nzeribe, and the chairman of the Bakassi Boys, Gilbert Okoye, all personally visited the detention center while they were held there.
A former detainee said that Gilbert Okoye had stated, in front of the governor: "All these people they took from Nawgu are thieves and should be killed. You should even bring others too. After the death of Eddie Okeke, the state government set up a panel of inquiry into the case. The panel had no legal status, no power to require further action by the authorities, and its findings were never published. A local lawyer described the first judge appointed to the panel as a very independent person; however, she was soon replaced by another judge. The panel, which asked for submissions in the form of memoranda, seemed geared towards establishing Eddie Okeke's guilt, rather than investigating his abduction and death.
According to a lawyer who followed the case closely, there were two versions of its terms of reference; the mandate to investigate Eddie Okeke's death was removed in the second version. Individuals who were close to Eddie Okeke were severely tortured and threatened with death to force them to testify against him at the panel. A lawyer representing the Bakassi Boys alleged that Eddie Okeke had confessed to committing atrocities on video and in a written confession, but failed to produce the evidence.
The Bakassi Boys themselves never appeared before the panel, despite a two month extension to enable them to do so. Their lawyer testified for them instead; he claimed that Eddie Okeke had been killed by a mob. He stated that the Bakassi Boys were on their way to Awka to hand Eddie Okeke over to the police when they were confronted with a large mob who attacked them. The Bakassi Boys were terrified so abandoned their vehicle and ran away; when they returned, they saw a fire and Eddie Okeke was no longer there.
The Bakassi Boys' lawyer's evidence was not challenged by the panel chairman. By October , a lawyer acting on behalf of Eddie Okeke's family had given notice to bring a case against the state government, on the basis that the Bakassi Boys are state agents and that the government should therefore be held responsible. In a newspaper interview in March , Chuma Nzeribe denied any knowledge of what had happened in the case of Eddie Okeke. Chief Ezeodumegwu G. Aged forty-one, he had three wives and eleven children. He was a well-known political figure in his local area and was unafraid of denouncing abuses, including those committed by powerful figures in the community.
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His case illustrates the political dimension of the Bakassi Boys' activities, as well as the escalation of a local dispute into one which ended up involving the state authorities. According to members of his family, Chief Okonkwo's problems started in Nnewi, several years earlier. First, in , members of the town union executive were displeased when a candidate to the local council elections who was sponsored by Chief Okonkwo won the elections against a candidate sponsored by the town union executive. Then, in , Chief Okonkwo was indirectly involved in a dispute between members of the same town union executive and a man who had refused to give money to them.
The man fled to Chief Okonkwo's house for protection after security men, sent by the town union executive, came to his house to try to arrest him and confiscate his property. Chief Okonkwo gave the man a note to report to the problem to the police. The police arrested two members of the town union and threatened to arrest others.
The leader of the town union executive paid to get his security men released, but thereafter began inciting members of the community against Chief Okonkwo. In August , five members of the town union executive wrote to the police, alleging that Chief Okonkwo was a criminal and an arms dealer and that he trained armed robbers. The police arrested Chief Okonkwo but released him after three days as their investigations did not produce any evidence against him. Chief Okonkwo filed a civil suit against the five people who had accused him, and another against the security men hired by the town union for abuses they had carried out against him and other people in the village.
In , the town union wrote another letter about Chief Okonkwo, this time to the Bakassi Boys who had recently begun operating in Nnewi. On July 14, , seven men armed with guns and double-edged swords burst into his house, announcing themselves as Bakassi Boys, and detained him.
They detained him overnight and released him the next day, after declaring him innocent. A second assault was made on December 28, , this time by the Bakassi Boys from Onitsha. Adolphus Anyaso, one of the main financial backers of the town union, and his son were with the Bakassi Boys when they came to Chief Okonkwo's house to arrest him on December The Bakassi Boys struck Chief Okonkwo with their machetes and injured him on his hand and stomach. They also tried to hit his wife. Eye-witnesses said Adolphus Anyaso's son threatened to cut off Chief Okonkwo's head and use it as a football.
As before, he was held overnight, then released. The Bakassi Boys brought him back to his village for a public "trial" where they asked the villagers to testify as to whether Chief Okonkwo was a criminal, vowing that they would kill him if he was. The villagers protested his innocence, and he was released. The third and final attempt to abduct Chief Okonkwo took place on the morning of February 18, This time, the abduction was followed by murder.
They tied his hands behind his back and put him in the boot of their vehicle, which witnesses described as a station wagon which used to belong to OTA. They drove off to an unknown destination. Chief Okonkwo's relatives then set about trying to find him and alerted the authorities. A family member explained: We lodged an official complaint with the police area commander in Nnewi, then we went to the AVS headquarters in Onitsha. The camp boys wouldn't talk to us; they said we should talk to their leader. We had also reported it to the Bakassi at Nnewi, who said they didn't have him and we should check with the Bakassi in Onitsha.
At Onitsha, we met their camp leader, Okpompi. He said Chief Okonkwo was a criminal. When we realized he was privy to the abduction, we went to government house at Awka. We met the principal secretary there, Hez Nnukwe, who knows Chief Okonkwo. He gave us a letter addressed to Okoye asking for his release. We went back to Ntu with the letter. This time, he denied that his boys were holding Chief Okonkwo. He told us to return the next day at 10 a. The next day, Monday 19 February, we went to see him again. He said he had to consult the governor first. Hez Nnukwe had also phoned Nzeribe asking for his release.
On Tuesday morning we phoned the principal secretary again. He said that Nzeribe had told him that by the time he'd reached the camp in Onitsha on Monday, they had already killed Chief Okonkwo. That day, on 20 February, his three wives wrote a petition to the inspector general of police reporting this. Nzeribe gave the family an appointment for Tuesday. He gave them the assurance that he would secure Chief Okonkwo's release.
On 25 February we realized he was not sincere. On 26 February we went to the Bakassi headquarters at Aba. We discovered that when the state government had taken over the Bakassi, they had sacked many of the original Bakassi Boys from Aba. We saw the Bakassi who had screened Chief Okonkwo twice, who were now back in Aba, including their local chief known as "Boss. A Bakassi Boy from Onitsha had told them that when Chief Okonkwo was arrested, they had taken him straight to the outskirts of Onitsha and murdered him at about A junior Bakassi Boy had participated in the killing.
They set his corpse on fire, then came later and got rid of the corpse. We went there on Sunday to check the spot. We asked around. People described Chief Okonkwo and said he was dragged there in the boot of the car, shouting that he was innocent. In March, the police arrested seven people, including Gilbert Okoye, Adolphus Anyaso, and Emmanuel Udegbunam, and charged them with murder, conspiracy to murder, and kidnapping of Chief Okonkwo.
They were released some weeks later. Gilbert Okoye was detained for three months then was granted bail. Chief Okonwko's family told Human Rights Watch and CLEEN that in a newspaper interview, the governor had denied seeing any letter asking for Chief Okonkwo's release, and that when asked whether the government would compensate the family for his death, he said: "They don't recognize me" that is, since they were not his supporters, he did not feel the need to take any action.
Chuma Nzeribe was quoted in a newspaper as stating: "I have no hand whatsoever in the murder [of Chief Okonkwo]. The members of the Anambra State Vigilante Services have no hand in the case. I have not met the man all my life. It was only thanks to the intervention of the inspector general of police that his life was saved. Ifeanyi Ibegbu had previously been threatened on several occasions by OTA and had alerted the authorities to these threats. As a member of the state house of assembly representing Onitsha, he had been an outspoken critic of the state government; he had denounced many killings by OTA and the Bakassi Boys and had assisted families of victims in seeking redress.
He had complained about vigilante violence to both state and federal authorities, in vain. There is little doubt that he was targeted for political reasons and because of his public criticisms and campaigns against vigilante violence. The harassment and intimidation of Ifeanyi Ibegbu began several months before his arrest. After first being warned that he was likely to be killed, he fled from his home.
Members of OTA then came to his house in Onitsha in April and destroyed everything, leaving a human head behind in his house. He then decided to move out of the city. On August 18, , Ifeanyi Ibegbu attended a party at which Chuma Nzeribe, the governor's security adviser, was present. He claimed that he overheard Chuma Nzeribe saying that he Ifeanyi Ibegbu was trying to discredit the government and that Nzeribe was going to kill Ibegbu.
The two men got into an argument and a scuffle ensued. He said that this was Nigeria, not America, and that I could not oppose the governor, even though I am the Opposition Leader in the House. On the afternoon of August 20, as he was driving from Enugu towards Onitsha, Ifeanyi Ibegbu noticed that he was being followed: Along the road I noticed the Bakassi in strategic positions.
They flagged me and said: "Who are you? Oh, you're the criminal we're looking for.
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They gagged me and tied my feet and arms with rope. I was naked. They forced me into the pick-up truck. It was about 4. A crowd had gathered. People were stoning the Bakassi, trying to protest. The Bakassi numbered about forty or fifty; they had pump action guns and matchets. They put me face down in the vehicle. I didn't know where we were going. Later I saw that I was in the heart of Onitsha market. They took me upstairs and tortured me; this was at about midnight.
I still have the wounds. They called me for interrogation. They were sitting like judges. They said: "Your time is up. They asked: "Why did you oppose Bakassi? They said: "We will kill you," and mentioned by name various other prominent people they wanted to kill, who had denounced their violence. I started pleading with them. They refused to listen.
This went on until about 8 a. One Bakassi boy who knew me told me: "The government wants you to die. At about They brought me downstairs to the execution ground. I was still naked. Some of them said they would kill me, others said they wouldn't. They took me back upstairs, then down again, then back up again, then down again. The traders had closed their shops and were standing around, waiting for me to be displayed. The Bakassi leader Gilbert Okoye said: "Your day is up.
Stop going around with those criminals. I was still pleading with them. They were making calls on their cell-phones, saying: "This is the man, we have him. Then the inspector general of police got to hear about it. He called Nzeribe for him to tell the Bakassi to release me. They forced me to make a mark on my body. They rubbed a black native substance into a cut on my arm. They hit me three times on my chest and back. I had to take an oath that I would keep it secret and say they were doing a great job. They warned me not to go to the police and not to go to court.
After they released me, I went to make a statement to the police. The Bakassi came to the police station. Then they entered the car and zoomed off. The same night, after my release, they killed two boys at the junction just to frighten me. They just left the bodies there, near my house.
In their submissions to the committee, Ifeanyi Ibegbu's personal assistant and his driver, who were traveling with him at the time of his arrest and were both arrested and detained with him, confirmed that the Bakassi Boys had not accused Ifeanyi Ibegbu of any specific criminal offence, but of challenging Chuma Nzeribe and being against the activities of the Bakassi Boys in Onitsha.
They both stated that when their car was intercepted on the road, the Bakassi Boys made a call on their mobile phone before then assaulting and arresting them. In his own submission to the ad-hoc committee, Chuma Nzeribe accused Ifeanyi Ibegbu of using his house as the operational base of an armed gang and having links with two well-known armed robbers. He denied any involvement in his arrest and denied threatening to kill him. Gilbert Okoye, for his part, admitted to the committee that he had been informed on the telephone about the arrest of Ifeanyi Ibegbu, but claimed that he had asked the Bakassi Boys not to harm him since he was a public figure.
The operational secretary of the Bakassi Boys confirmed to the committee that the intention had been to kill Ifeanyi Ibegbu: "He disclosed that Hon. Ifeanyi Ibegbu would have been killed but for the timely intervention of the Commissioner of Police and the Security Adviser. Ifeanyi Ibegbu has taken his case to court and is suing the Anambra government, Chuma Nzeribe, and the Bakassi Boys for damages for wrongful arrest and assault. Despite having been given a police escort since his release, he still felt unsafe when he spoke to Human Rights Watch and CLEEN, more than a year after his abduction and torture.
Setting themselves up as self-appointed judges, juries and executioners, the Bakassi Boys have killed scores of people after putting them through their own form of "trial," resulting in apparently arbitrary decisions as to the individual's guilt or innocence, often on the basis of fabricated evidence, evidence extracted under torture, or no evidence at all. The Bakassi Boys claim to use "magic" to ascertain whether individuals are guilty or innocent; the premises from which they operate are adorned with symbols and objects related to this belief.
Many of those "judged" to be guilty were brutally murdered without any other form of process, sometimes in public, in front of large crowds. One of the most publicised "catches" by the Bakassi Boys was an alleged armed robber in Onitsha, Okwudili Ndiwe, also known as Derico Nwamama; he was detained by the Bakassi Boys on July 3, and executed six days later, on July 9. Public summary and arbitrary executions have also been carried out with impunity by the Bakassi Boys in Imo State. Newswatch gathered information in Owerri that the two persons slaughtered had been undergoing trial in a Bakassi detention camp outside the state.
The two people were convicted by the Bakassi Boys and therefore summarily executed in line with their operations in other states especially Abia and Anambra. Among those executed there were a man nicknamed Commotion, who had been detained by the Bakassi Boys for almost one month; he was killed and burnt, along with three other people. There was no doubt in their minds as to the fate that awaited such prisoners.
A man who was detained in Onitsha in November said: "They were killing people there. They would come into the cell, take about ten people out, beat them and bring them back in. Sometimes they would chain someone and take them out. Those ones never came back. We presumed they had been killed. Sometimes they would even say they were going to kill the ones they took out. They would take them away. They never came back. There was a man called Ike that they took outside.
We never saw him again. I presume he was killed. The day I was arrested, they took eight people out. They tied them with rope: that means they will be killed. When the Bakassi returned they had blood on their knives. Some detainees personally witnessed others being killed. A man who was detained by the Bakassi Boys in Onitsha in August stated: "While I was detained they brought a man out and killed him in front of me. He was about seventeen or twenty years old. They killed him with a knife, a matchet and a big stick. They cut him up in one or two minutes. The Bakassi Boys' victims have included women.
In Anambra, for example, a mother of five and a caterer who had become a successful trader in buildings materials was killed by the Bakassi Boys in August There were different theories about the motive for her killing: one was that she had been accused of killing her husband's first wife; the other was that she was friendly with a man who was an armed robber, whom the Bakassi Boys were hunting down, and that they killed both of them as they found him in her company.
It was also alleged that the Bakassi Boys accused her of having guns and training criminals, but there was never any criminal investigation into these allegations. Although it is impossible to estimate the number of people killed, the Bakassi Boys are certainly responsible for scores of murders, perhaps hundreds. The majority of victims are young men and boys, some under the age of eighteen, who come from poor backgrounds; they have no one to report on their behalf to the authorities about these abuses, and, unlike some of the Bakassi Boys' more prominent victims, no possibility of appealing to any authorities to intervene to save their lives.
Their deaths have also gone mostly unreported by the media. In some cases, the victims were street-boys or orphans whose names were not even known and who had no one to identify their bodies after they were killed. Some may have participated in minor, petty offences but never had a chance to present their side of the story. Others may well have been innocent of any offense. From the testimonies of former detainees, it would appear that these "anonymous" victims constitute the bulk of those picked up and killed by the Bakassi Boys.
For example, one man stated: "There are lots of cases. In about March this year , I saw two dead bodies on the road in Umuahia. Their bodies were burnt. Tyres had also been burnt around them. There were Bakassi Boys parading around. Children watch and cheer. He said that he would regularly see between six and twelve dead bodies on the streets in Onitsha town, Obosi, Nkpor and Ogbaru.
Most of the victims had their arms tied behind their backs and had been shot with rifles. At least nine people, including several teenagers, were killed in Onitsha on April 10, The perpetrators are believed to have been members of OTA, the predecessor to the Bakassi Boys in Onitsha, assisted by policemen; according to witnesses, they arrived in police vans and in vehicles of the Anambra State Vigilante Services. Most of the victims were young men, including at least three local government employees-Vincent Ogbuli, aged twenty, Chuka Bosah, aged nineteen, and Chilo Chukurah, aged twenty-four — and two school students, Stephen Chukwurah, aged fifteen, and Obiora Okechukwu, aged thirteen; a thirteen-year-old girl and a pregnant woman were reportedly also killed.
Their bodies are believed to have been thrown into the Niger river, but were never recovered. OTA's claims that all the victims were criminals were contradicted by local sources who knew the victims well. Some of their families complained to the authorities, requesting an explanation and compensation for their deaths, but relatives of others did not dare to do so.
In August , Christian Onwuma, a twenty-year-old okada motorbike taxi driver, and three other men were abducted and killed by the Bakassi Boys in Nkpor, near Onitsha, at a location sometimes used for marijuana-dealing. Christian Onwuma, who worked in Onitsha but was originally from Nsukka, in Enugu State, was described by friends and neighbours as a quiet, hard-working young man who had never been a thief or a criminal.
A lawyer acting for the family stated: "The only offence he was believed to have ever committed was to smoke marijuana. But it is not the duty of the Bakassi Boys to arrest drug-takers. People shouted that Christian should not be killed, but they were told to keep back. The Bakassi alleged that they had found guns in the marijuana dealing site.
That Tuesday, at about 2 p. There were about five Bakassi Boys. They were in an Isuzu pick-up van; I know their car. I saw they were carrying knives and guns. The men had been beaten and injured with knives. They had their arms tied behind their backs. The next day their relatives went to the Bakassi office. They were told to come back the following day Thursday. But on the Wednesday the Bakassi drove the four victims to the junction and killed them.
Some fellow drivers came to tell me. We went there and saw the corpses. All four corpses were together. They had been killed with matchets and burnt together. They were badly burnt but still recognizable. They had cut off their heads and legs, but the heads were still lying there. People looked, then everyone just went his or her own way. The bodies stayed there for four or five days. I don't know who removed them. I've seen other people who've been killed but not people who have been close to me. I feel the loss very much. The family is also very affected. We knew each other when we were little.
Christian used to be a motorcycle mechanic. He was easy-going, not quarrelsome. He never stole anything. After his death, his relatives tried to get his bike back. The Bakassi made them pay 5, naira [approximately U. On May 29, , in one of the most serious cases, thirty-six alleged armed robbers were killed by the Bakassi Boys in Onitsha. Some of them had reportedly been detained for several weeks beforehand. They were publicly killed with axes and machetes, mutilated and set on fire, in several different locations.
I saw a pile of human remains. They had cut people up with matchets and put them in a container. There were piles of body parts which had been set on fire. The bodies had been cut up into small pieces like in a butcher's shop. They use very sharp matchets. You can't even recognize what part of the body it is. In March , an Amnesty International delegation visiting Anambra State witnessed an attempted summary execution by the Bakassi Boys inside the compound of the state government in Awka, Anambra State, some one hundred metres away from the governor's office.
The Amnesty International delegates described how about twelve Bakassi Boys armed with automatic weapons and machetes were surrounding a man in his fifties, who had his arms tied behind his back and was bleeding profusely, apparently as a result of beatings. When they realised that there were strangers watching the scene, they bundled the victim into a van, loaded the vehicle with machetes and guns, and drove away.
Chukwudozie Nwachukwu, a twenty-nine-year-old man who worked as an operational manager in a seafood company, had traveled from Lagos to Umuahia to visit his family. When he arrived at the family house, his parents were not there, so he went to wait in a restaurant in the centre of town, known as the Safari restaurant. According to eye-witness testimonies and members of the family, a few minutes after Chukwudozie Nwachukwu arrived in the bar, a group of about ten armed men entered the bar. They identified themselves explicitly as Bakassi Boys and said they had been sent from Aba by the state government to stop criminals.
Soon after they entered the bar, the Bakassi Boys got into an argument with the bar boy. The argument escalated and the Bakassi Boys hit the bar boy with a broken bottle. When Chukwudozie Nwachukwu intervened and asked what was happening, the Bakassi Boys began attacking him with knives. Another man who was in the bar, Sgt Okechukwu Madukwe, approached when he saw Chukwudozie Nwachukwu lying in a pool of blood, surrounded by armed men.
The Bakassi Boys then set upon him too. They accused Chukwudozie Nwachukwu and Sgt Okechukwu Madukwe of being robbers, after discovering that they were carrying money. Within a short time, they had killed both of them, using machetes and guns. They took their bodies outside, poured fuel over them and set them on fire. Okechukwu Madukwe's brother, who was also in the bar, was attacked with machetes, tied up and put inside a vehicle; he was injured, but survived after being saved by the police.
Chukwudozie Nwachukwu's father was at work when his son was killed: "I was in the office. Your son has been fighting. I took off immediately. I reached the restaurant. There were crowds there. I saw the boys' bodies on fire. Blood was flowing. The Bakassi were still there, with their weapons. They had two guns and many matchets. They were searching the vehicle of the spy sergeant [Sgt Okechukwu Madkuwe]; they found nothing. My son had been shot on the neck and shoulder.
They had cut off his feet. I was so dazed I couldn't react. I had to leave. I then went to the police with my wife to report it. The body was left there overnight. The police helped us remove it the next day. We had a big funeral. Unusually in a case involving the Bakassi Boys, the police came to the scene quickly, arrested six of the Bakassi Boys and took them to the police station. The police then received instructions from Government House, described as follows in the police findings and recommendations on the case: "Shortly after the arrest of these people directives came from the Government House that the suspects should be brought to Government House.
At the Government House, the deputy Commissioner of police, Abia State police command was instructed to release the suspects by the governor. Based on the instruction, the suspects were released few hours after having recorded their statements. Court proceedings began in Umuahia, on June 21, , but the trial did not commence until February 14, By April , it has still not concluded, following repeated adjournments. The police's initial investigations into this case in Abia State were reportedly obstructed by the state government, so the investigation was transferred to the police in Lagos.
According to the police findings in the case, at least two Abia State government officials — the secretary to the state government and the protocol officer — had called the Bakassi Boys to Umuahia on July 9. However, the reasons and motives for the killings remained unclear.
The Deputy Governor in his statement confirmed that they i. He asserted that after their deliberation an arrangement was reached to invite the group. Ndukwe Okereke a Protocol Officer was dispatched from Umuahia to Aba to invite this group and on his return trip with the gang numbering about 10 ten men went straight to the Abia State Government House, Umuahia. The victims' relatives believe it was a case of mistaken identity.
They asked the government to admit publicly that it was a mistake and to state for the record that the men were innocent. The government refused to do so. In many cases, it was not clear why particular individuals were picked up by the Bakassi Boys. Even those arrested often had no idea of the reason or basis for their detention. Many of those arrested and detained by the Bakassi Boys were people who were not known to have a criminal record and who had not been apprehended in the course of carrying out any criminal activity.
Under international law and the Nigerian constitution, all suspects have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. Even those who are suspected of having perpetrated the most brutal crimes have the right to be informed of the reason for their arrest, to have access to a lawyer, and to be charged and tried by the competent authorities, according to due process. Vigilante groups have no judicial status and no powers to detain, charge, try or judge, even less to administer punishments, including death.
Contrary to statements made by government authorities and vigorous denials by the Bakassi Boys' leaders themselves, the Bakassi Boys were always armed when carrying out the arrests reported to Human Rights Watch and CLEEN, usually with guns and machetes. They rarely informed people of the specific reason for their arrest, apart from general, unsubstantiated accusations of criminality. Arrests were not covert operations: the Bakassi Boys usually identified themselves explicitly, sometimes even stating that they had been sent by the government. Their victims were almost always badly beaten at the time of arrest; most sustained serious injuries from machete blows in particular.
The Bakassi Boys often intimidated and threatened other people who happened to be present at the time of arrest, for example by firing into the air, or by arbitrarily arresting and ill-treating onlookers and neighbors, as well as relatives of their main victims.
Typically they then forced those arrested into their vehicles, often with their arms tied behind their back with rope or cable, and took them to the Bakassi Boys' headquarters where they were detained. The official leaders of the Bakassi Boys have denied that they have been responsible for unlawful detention. Camillus Ebekue denied that the AVS had any detention centers and told us: "I have never seen any cell. In Onitsha, detainees were usually held at the Bakassi Boys' headquarters known as the White House, located in the central market.
In Aba, they were held in a detention center in the Ariaria market. In Owerri, many were held in a detention center behind the Concord Hotel. The Bakassi Boys' detention centers consist of overcrowded and dirty cells, with no hygiene or other facilities. Detainees would be deprived of food and drink for several days. An elderly man who was detained at the White House in Onitsha in November described the conditions there: They crammed us all into one room. There were thirty of us in the cell. We were not given anything to eat or drink. They came with knives and threatened to kill anyone who looked at them.
They brought us a bucket to urinate in. We couldn't go outside the cell at all. All the time while we were held there they were beating us and threatening us. We would whisper to those who were close but we didn't dare raise our voices. We were locked in there with a big padlock. They just left us there. Some detainees had money in their pockets and would send someone to fetch water. We would share one or two sachets. We were not given food for a week. Another former detainee in Onitsha stated: "There were many people, thirty-eight men and three women, young and old, all in the same cell.
We were all crammed in, sitting between each other's knees. We couldn't lie down or stand up. When they brought in new detainees, they would ask them for money. Once in a while we were able to ask a kind-hearted Bakassi to buy us a sachet of water or bread, once every three days. We had nothing else to eat at all. Another man detained in Onitsha in October said: "The cell was dirty with blood on the floor and it smelled bad.
There were about forty other men detained there; some had cuts on their hands. There wasn't enough room to lie down; we had to sleep sitting up. Detainees in Owerri were held in similar conditions: "There were eight or nine people in the cell. The wall and the floor were splattered in blood. People had cuts. One old man was groaning, pleading his innocence, saying no one had interrogated him.
He had knife cuts on his body. It was an unbearable stench. Their testimonies illustrate certain patterns in the methods used by the Bakassi Boys. Torture and ill-treatment were systematic during detention. Detainees were stripped naked, severely beaten, often with rifle butts, flogged, kicked, and cut with machetes and knives, often resulting in severe injuries. They were also subjected to various forms of psychological torture, abuse, and humiliation.
They said they would kill me and eat me, starting with my heart. Once when they called me out, I was alone facing about thirty Bakassi. They beat me badly with their matchets; I have scars on my legs, my chest and my back. They scraped my back and wrote their inscriptions on me; they beat me with hammers. They accused me of sponsoring armed robbers and trading in weapons. Torture was often inflicted with the intention of extracting confessions of guilt. The Bakassi Boys have actively fuelled the myth that they have magical ways of ascertaining guilt or innocence; a particular belief is that they hold a machete over the individual, and that if the blade turns red, it means that the individual is guilty.
A man who was detained and tortured by the Bakassi Boys in Onitsha in March stated: "People actually believe that the Bakassi Boys have magical powers through which they detect criminals, but my experience has taught me that that there is nothing like that. They will just continue torturing you till you confess you are guilty. Instead, they beat him and tortured him. Scroll down for video.
Fighting for life: Ulu Tuipulotu, 26, is determined to see his nieces and nephews get married one day. Weighing around kg, Ulu Tuipulotu, pictured, is determined to lose more than two thirds of his body weight. On the scales: Mr Tuipulotu today went public with his fight for life. He has lost fifteen kilos since starting a program of physical activity and hypnotherapy. Instead the unemployed man, who lives with his Tongan family in Quaker's Hill, plays online games for most of the day and touts himself as one of the best Call of Duty players in the world.
In his own words, Mr Tuipulotu has always been 'big'. He was born weighing But it did not become a problem until his weight began to balloon around age Now he is around four times the weight of the average Australian male, which is His family also struggle with their weight. His mother Sue checks in at kg, his dad Sale weighs kg and sister Nine tops kg. Me, I just took it to the extreme'. Mr Tuipulotu's downfall was non-stop snacking on cheeses, biscuits and packets of Arnotts Shapes.
Ulu Tuipulotu, Australia's heaviest man, plays the hit video game Call of Duty pictured for as many as 12 hours a day. But it was his family who convinced him it was time to try something drastic. Sydney hypnotherapist Mark Stephens, who has worked with extremely obese patients in the past, has committed Mr Tuipulotu to a two-year program involving hypnotherapy and multiple sessions a week with personal trainers.
Mr Tirekidis lost kg. Chips, drinks, donuts, Arnott's Shapes, biscuits and cheese. Big boy: Tuipulotu was born at the sizeable weight of He is believed to be the country's heaviest man now. Growing up: Pictured as a child, Tuipulotu's weight began to balloon as he got older. Mr Tuipulotu and his family began the program around four weeks ago after meeting with Mr Stephens. Mr Stephens said: 'With hypnosis, the worst thing that can happen is nothing. The best thing is you can change your life. Dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan said the reasons why Mr Tuipulotu is overweight are apparent in his unhealthy diet, which included constant snacking on cheese, biscuits and Arnott's Shapes while playing games.
But he could make drastic changes by just making small changes to his diet each week. Introducing vegetables. Australia's heaviest: Mr Tuipulotu, pictured today after setting the scales at kg. Dr McMillan said the psychological side of weight loss is often forgotten. Sydney GP Dr Brian Morton said hypnotherapy should be used as part of a program involving proper diet and exercise. He said he had seen it work as part of a program for smokers trying to quit.
For others, it was 'useless'. Mr Tuipulotu is pledging to plough ahead, having lost 15 kilos over the space of a month. He said he is already beginning to feel the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, including more energy when he walks around. And he warned others not to follow his lifestyle. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
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