Abuja – Civil society organisations have warned the ongoing tensions at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead could degenerate into civil strife.
Under the umbrella of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), they gave the warning amid reports soldiers had shot dead some civilians in the region.
“Carefully planned war-like events going on at the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead have clearly revealed that the Hausa-Fulani segment of the Nigerian Army have declared a second civil war against the Igbo ethnic nationality and their South-south counterparts; particularly millions of Xmas returnees,” said Emeka Umeagbalasi, Intersociety Board Chairman.
He said the blocking of the bridge had left the Igbos’ sacred rights to ancestral homeland and ethnic identity under intense threat.
“It is historically unheard of that a people of innocent background and character, returning to their ancestral homes for special seasonal feast like Xmas; are blocked and made to suffer and suffocate few miles to their ancestral homes.”
Umeagbalasi said in the instant case, new born children and their nursing mothers as well as elderly people and children were made to undergo excruciating pains and hardships with many sleeping inside their vehicles and by bush sides.
“Perishable food and domestic items worth millions of naira are also lost,” he said.
Umeagbalasi recalled on the second and 17th of this month, a total of 25 innocent citizens were killed at the same Onitsha Niger Bridge by the attached to the 302 Artillery Regiment of the Nigerian Army.
He said since Wednesday, troops blocked the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead under the guise of checking and spotting pro-Biafra independence supporters.
These have been involved in violent clashes with security personnel.
Intersociety called on the government to withdraw soldiers from the Onitsha Niger Bridgehead, which connects the South-eastern and West, linked to Asaba in Delta State.
He said the facility must also be decongested so as to allow for free flow of traffic for citizens of Southeast and South-south zones making their holiday trips.
“The Government of Muhammadu Buhari is dangerously pushing the Igbo ethnic nationality to the wall. No ethnic nationality, no matter how small or perceived weak, will tolerate being chased into its ancestral homes, killed, tortured or enslaved with impunity.”
- CAJ News