The Nigeria Bar Association, Calabar Branch, has described as appalling and ill-advised, the directive of Governor Ben Ayde to the Nigerian Army to sustain its operations in the Nko community in Cross River.
In a statement signed by the NBA chairman in Calabra, Attah Ochinke; and secretary, Eno Edet; the association accused the Nigerian Army of “indiscriminate shooting, summary execution and rape of hapless citizens” in Nko community while carrying out the governors’ order to fish out the killers of its members.
The statement partly read, “We note that the crisis between Nko and Oyedama has become an annual embarrassment to the state. We particularly condemn the attack and killing of the military personnel drafted to the scene to help bring the situation to order. While the details of the events are awaited, no excuse will justify the shooting of army personnel on a peacekeeping operation.”
“We are appaled that the governor, with a mandate for law and order in the state, responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of all Cross Rivers, will urge the sustenance of reprisal attacks on hapless villagers. We know that those who have been killed, wounded or raped in these reprisal attacks are not necessarily the perpetrators of the attack on the soldiers. The victims of the reprisal attacks are citizens in the wrong place and time without regard to their culpability.”
“At this stage, the governor should be reining in the Army and bringing the reprisal attack to an end. Urging the army to continue is to condemn more innocent citizens to a brutal death by soldiers extracting revenge for their fallen colleagues.
“We call on citizens with access to these institutions to intervene to stop the carnage. A scorched earth policy as is presently being conducted is a rebuke to the training and discipline of the Nigerian Army, and an affront to Nigerian law.
“Reprisal by the army, however self-righteous, cannot replace the due process of law.
“We appeal to the governor to countermand or withdraw his instructions to the army to avoid more loss of innocent lives. We urge the state government to revisit and implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of enquiry over the crisis.
“Perhaps this will bring the crisis to an end and save citizens the annual embarrassment and risk that these clashes pose to all of us,” the statement added.