Amnesty International Nigeria has raised the alarm that residents of Bodo in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State were attacked by the military, demanding an immediate halt to it.
In a statement on Sunday, the organisation described the alleged attack as a clear violation of Nigeria’s obligation under international human rights law, and international conventions to which it has subscribed.
Osai Ojigho, Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, called on the military authorities to bring those behind the attack to book.
The new paramount regent of Bodo Community, Joseph Kpai, was quoted as saying the army, police and navy invaded the community that they had guns.
“On Wednesday 7 December 2022, the police, navy, and Army came in the morning and shot sporadically, and because of that, about four persons are lying critically ill and some people were also arrested, and we do not know their whereabouts.”
“On 7 December attack, the following people were arrested: Michael Zabbey (dumb), Peter Kogbara, Vikere Joseph, Miriam Paago, Victor Filima (a minor) and Nekabari Gbarato. Their whereabouts is still unknown. And the threat is that they are going to come back again. As a community, we do not know what to do,” he was quoted to have said.
The Bodo community alleged that this is not the first time that a combined team of the police, navy, and army is invading the community.
“In the November invasion, the military came at night and some people were allegedly abducted. Those abducted include Pius Menega, Clement Vulasi, Lekie Naaduuna, Lucky Visa, James Ntete, Paul Zabbey, and two others,” a resident reportedly said.
According to media reports, the invasion of the community may be connected to a protest on 4 October 2022 which allegedly led to the dethronement of the traditional ruler of Bodo Community, King John Berebon.
Following the alleged dethronement, Bodo people reportedly marched to the Gokana local government council secretariat and the palace of Gberemene Gokana to inform the traditional institution that the people of Bodo had appointed Joseph Kpai as the new paramount regent.
“The people of Bodo community are victims of many years of environmental catastrophes as result of activities of oil companies. Oil spills have left many people with illnesses while water and trees are all also contaminated,” Amnesty International said while calling on the authorities to institute independent investigations into the alleged invasion.
“Nigerian authorities must also ensure adequate reparations for the victims, including their families. The wanton use of the military in policing civil disturbances in almost all cases leads to human rights violations, as it is happening in Bodo community. The police must be instructed, trained and equipped to deal with restive situations in line with international law and standards.
“All those involved in this violation must be held accountable and the invasion must end immediately,” Ojigho said.
The military is yet to react to the allegation.