On the 25th of July 2021 one of the oldest newspapers in Nigeria, founded in the year 1949 which is eleven years before the nation’s independence, reported the invasion and military raids of communities in Enugu State including Obiagu Community in Awkunanu area of Enugu State, in which unascertained members of the Eastern Security Network ( ESN) were killed.
The raid occurred as a fallout of the previous attack and killing of some policemen at Obiagu Awkunanaw community of Enugu State by the alleged members of Eastern Security Network (ESN), a mixed team of military and other security operatives raided the secret camp of the ESN the militarized arm of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), at Akpawfu Community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State killing several members of the groups.
Barely a month after, the community leader of Obiagu Community Chief Okey Ogbodo has raised concern over the disappearance of a nurse Mrs. Ngozi Ugwu and her 6 children, report has it the members of the counter insurgency task force during their raids in the Enugu State communities where the ESN operates had their camps, stormed her home in search of possible wounded members of the ESN Members as she is alleged to be offering them medical attention, especially in cases of those that sustained bullet wounds during their illicit operations against the Nigerian police.
The combined team of Military and Police overran her home around noon on the 21st of July but she was not met at home and her friend that was visiting was arrested, some eye witnesses alleged that she was the one arrested ,blindfolded and bundled into the tinted vehicles of the security operatives, no side of the story has been ascertained as visits to the nearby police stations to establish if she is in detention has yielded no positive result.
Recently in Rivers State another nurse of Igbo extraction knows an Nurse Chichi fell to bullets in an altercation between the Police and alleged members of the ESN at their hide out in Rivers State, she was also treating members of the freedom agitators that has sustained bullet wounds in previous operations at their hide out when a shootout ensued between them and a group believed to be members of the Nigerian police from early reports on the incidents which the police later denied any involvement.
The alleged freedom agitators were reported to have attacked a police station earlier as reported by The Nation Newspaper Nigeria on the 16th of May with the caption Mystery over killing of four gunmen, nurse in Rivers , which reads thus:
The victims were said to be among the gunmen, who recently murdered seven policemen in surprised and coordinated attacks on security formations along the East-West Road and Elimgbu Police Station.
A security source, who spoke in confidence, said the bandits were trying to get medical treatments for multiple bullet wounds inflicted on them by the police when luck ran out on them.
He said: “Remember that recently gunmen, disguised as security operatives killed seven policemen when they attacked their formations along the East-West Road and the Elimgbu Police Station.
“During that attack, the police at Elimgbu engaged them in a gun battle. They sustained injuries and even abandoned their Hilux van. Those who were wounded ran to their hideout at Irebe side in Oyigbo and hired one Uchechi, a nurse, to treat them.
“They were tracked to their hideout. Three of them were already on drip. Sensing danger, one of the gunmen scaled the fence but was gunned down by the unknown gunmen.
“I can tell you that they are IPOB members. Five registration booklets of IPOB, many charms and some arms were recovered from them. You need to see their body, which was previously riddled by bullets. Though the bullets may not kill them because of their charms, the effects and the injuries will still show”.
But the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Friday Eboka, when contacted, said the people who carried out the act were not policemen.
Eboka said before the District Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the area and his men could get to the scene, the killers had concluded their mission and fled.
He noted that policemen, who rushed to the scene, only saw the five dead bodies and later recovered many charms.
The above is a verbatim extract from the May 16th Publication of the Nation Newspaper.
The Nigerian nation had a law that requires the provision of a report from a police station before a victim of bullet wound can be treated or attended to by any nurse or doctor or even offered medical attention in any hospital, this has encouraged the act of treating victims of bullet wounds in secret places by medical practitioners to avoid being found on the wrong side of the law, despite the fact that law was recently abolished
Ntiwunka Enyioma .D. in his article published in the Guardian Newspaper Nigeria on 24th of Dec 2019 with the caption; Nigerian hospitals on treating gunshot and stabbed victims explained the frustrations of the members of the society with the inconsistency of the police in ensuring the harmonization of the transition from what was on the issue to what has been enacted to be the change on the issue by the present administration below is an extract from the said article;
The issue of whether or not gunshot or stabbed victims should be treated by an individual, hospital or clinic before filling a police report is a problem Nigeria still faces. One could say that the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act which says that under no obligation should any individual, hospital or clinic administer any treatment to any bullet wounded person without reporting to the police first, conflicts with that of the National Health Acts which says the opposite.
With these two laws and also having in mind the doctors Hippocratic Oath, medical practitioners are indecisive on what exactly to do. On the other hand, the police simply believing that an innocent person can never be the victim of such circumstance(s), are just naïve. They still hold on to the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act even after the country’s present president, President Muhammadu Buhari passed out another bill – Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshot, which is supposed to put to rest that of the Robbery and Firearms (special provisions) Act.
The new law was also set to compel all public or private hospitals in Nigeria to immediately render adequate treatment with or without a police clearance, of any person with a gunshot wound.
The law also gives the condition of filing a report with the police within two hours of commencement of treatment. It could be reasoned that the inability of the police to follow the current law is because the government system in which Nigeria runs still has not yet discovered an effective way of communicating laws to all police stations and of course the citizens of the country. It’s like how most Nigerians lack proper knowledge on their rights as citizens of the country.
Now as the agitation for freedom has taken a violent turn since march this year, more people who are sympathetic to the cause out of tribal loyalty , as well as those patriotic to the nations unity are falling victims to the situation and more professionals in different fields are bound to follow.
The concern for putting this piece together is the rising number of un-armed women as collateral damage in this gun battle between the unknown gun men in the southern part of Nigeria who are being deeply linked to members of the Eastern Security Network and members of the Nigerian Counter insurgency task-force that is comprising of the military and police recently.
As we are lamenting the killing of nurse Chichi in River State and continue the search for another nurse Mrs. Ngozi Ugwu and her six children ,whose husbands whereabouts is still unascertained another young girl of 22 years names Glorie Okolie has been detained by Police for over 72 days now on the allegation that she is spy to IPOB despite the outcry and condemnation of the action from Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria urging for her immediate release.
The agitation for freedom is taking a turn towards the worst to the female gender in the south east of Nigeria, with the consistent rise of the danger that it’s posing to the unarmed women in the southern part of the country.
Cookey Iwuoha is Project Coordinator All Africa Media Network, and Convener African Elders and Women Intercultural dialogue, He is a dialogue facilitator, passionate creative writer, poet and published author. Publisher of Nigerian Eye Newspaper, a Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) Alumni, and has participated in other capacity development programs like United Nation Foundation’s Virtual Reporting Fellowship, Centre for Human Rights Certificate on African Human Right System and Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Certificate program among others