Continuing with our investigation into the case of the human body dumps into the Ezu River, I have watched the youtube video again and again [ watch video below]. This video recorded the parading Obinna Offor who could be seen and heard making some statements. The first part of the video was the Police Commissioner, Bala
Nasarawa, who read from a prepared speech. He was sloppy, inarticulate, and unprofessional. He called them “kidnappers” first and only later used the term “suspects”. He spoke with certainty as to the relationships between the three suspects and someone else he called the “kingpin”. He could not pronounce well the name of a community in a state he was assigned to serve as the Police Commissioner and his men had carried raids in that community to his knowledge. So, he should have been thinking about the community a while before his press statement and should have known how to pronounce its name at least for the press conference. And worse: he chuckled at his own failure to pronounce the name correctly. He must have felt like a foreigner form another continent who should be excused for not pronouncing it right. Yet, if you send that man to United Kingdom now, he would stay up all night to learn how to pronounce every city in the UK. But posting him to Anambra, another state in the country, was like posting him to serve in another continent. One would expect that Nigerian soldiers sent to fight in Mali would know how to pronounce the names of Malian towns where they are stationed.
All the Police Commissioner said did not sound like things that came out of legitimate investigation activity, but rather they sounded like information from forced confessions from the suspects. It was clearly incoherent. It appears the police did not actually want information to solve any crime. Rather, they seem to be looking only for information to justify the brutalization of these men and to give false impression of success in crime fighting in Anambra State.
Moving forward with the youtube video, according to the statement of the police commissioner, there was a kidnapping incident on October 14, 2012 in Awada (Onitsha, I presume). On October 15, 2012, Obinna Offor was arrested in Lagos and brought to Awka after three days of detaining him in Lagos. There was some exchange of gunfire between the police and the kidnappers, leading to the shooting death of three kidnappers (and no policeman). It is not clear whether the shootout occurred before Obinna was arrested in Lagos or after. But note that there was only one day between the date of the kidnapping incident and the date of the arrest of Obinna. And remember that Mr. Nasarawa said that the information Obinna gave led them to a house where they rescued the kidnap victim. So, at what point was the shootout: during the rescue or before the rescue. If before the rescue, where was the shootout incident? These are horrible gaps in the story of the Police Commissioner.
As a trained lawyer with more than 20 years of experience, I can tell that the Police Commissioner is lying. He cannot withstand cross examination under oath. There was no shootout. They probably killed some of the suspects to give the impression that they were working hard to track down criminals. And if the police should lie about such incident, it also means they lied about the weapons they said they recovered. And if they lied on these two events, then that creates a motive to kill Obinna Offor and others in order to cover up their lies.
Listening carefully to the voice of Obinna Offor on the youtube video, the following transcripts could be gleaned from it:
“The issue is that ehmm the police tracked me down to my place in Lagos. Then they brought me here in Awka. Then they told me they have a case of a kidnapper involving my name. Then I was able to tell the police the truth what I know, actually what I know about the incident then. Then I also told the police— the people that involved, that I am ready to assist the police get what they what information they want to make they track them down “which I have begun (you have started, you are on it and we are progressing and we will do more) and by his grace we get whatever we want . The person we are looking for we will get him and Anambra State will be in peace.”
It is clear that Obinna was terribly battered and brutalized by the police. It is clear that every confessional statement, even if you find any, was forced and none of that would have been if they were not so savagely beaten.
Also, there are big gaps. If Obinna Offor participated in the kidnapping that occurred in Onitsha on October 14, when did he get to Lagos and be in his house on October 15 when he was arrested there? What could have been Obinna’s role in the kidnapping? He couldn’t have been the ring leader because he was able to return to Lagos while the kidnap victim was just snatched from the church, according to the Police Commissioner. If he played any role at all in the crime, that would have been in the actual kidnapping and not in the handling of the victim afterwards. Then, listening to the other suspect, it is clear that there was not much connection between the two other than that they were arrested the same day in the same Lagos and brought back together to Awka. Also, it is clear that the police did not beat that second suspect as badly as they beat Obinna. What was there about Obinna that caused them to brutalize him so specially?
Anyway, back to Obinna’s statement. At some point in the statement, someone, who was not a suspect began to supply the words he was to say in his statement. That voice came in at the portion of Obinna’s statement that I placed in parenthesis. That suggests that Obinna was being coached on what to say to the press. He was merely reciting what he had been made to rehearse and when he seemed to forget the line, the voice came in to correct him, in an obvious and predictable manner, suggesting that Obinna was leading them to some bad guys, which he wouldn’t be able to do if he was not one of them. And the statement that when they found the person they were looking for “there would be peace in Anambra state” is something only the police could have given him to say. Even if Obinna was a kidnapper, he would not have known about the activities of other kidnappers in the state as to be able to tell that his own kidnap gang was the biggest and that catching their leader would end kidnapping in Anambra State. That is something only the police would want the public to believe. And therein lies another motive for killing Obinna Offor and the other men – to create false impression of success in crime fighting. That would make the Government of Anambra State look good and that would make Nasarawa look like a competent and effective police commander.
In the end, this video, if analyzed professionally, suggests strongly that Obinna Offor was innocent of the kidnapping that occurred on October 14, 2012. His statements were coerced by a police force that is corrupt and inept and embarrassed at its failure to stop the crime of kidnapping that has been ravaging Anambra State. The police lied all the way and probably killed the men to cover up their horrible failures.
Whether Obinna Offor is a MASSOB member or not is irrelevant. The fact is that this is extra-judicial execution of many people. Being a MASSOB member is only relevant to show ethnic motivation in targeting the victims. But the ethnic element does not need to come in order for there to be a crime against humanity. Unlike the crime of genocide, the number of victims is irrelevant. Indeed, a crime against humanity could still be committed even if only one person was killed as a result of systematic targeting of a civilian population. Indeed, death is not a requirement for crime against humanity to be established. Unlawful detentions, torture, degrading and inhumane treatments, rape, et could all give rise to an indictment for crime against humanity under the ICC rules. Also,
I avoided treating this case as genocide, simply because genocide requires more of ethnic motivations. I did not want to go that route because we have not yet ascertained the identity of all those who played or had knowledge in this incident. The Governor of Anambra state may not be as clean as it appeared at the beginning. His being in London the moment the bodies were discovered may be calculated. After all, Governor Mbadinugu was overseas too when Barrister Igwe and his wife were killed by men suspected to have been hired by the former Governor. This Governor rushed back from London immediately after the bodies were discovered and was at the scene straight from the airport. That gave impression that he considered the issue serious enough to get his maximum attention. He also immediately offered an award of five million naira for information leading to the truth of the matter. That suggests that he wanted the truth out. Yet, he made a dramatic reversal of wisdom by allowing the hurried burial of the bodies before autopsy and proper examination could be conducted. At the hearing by the Senators yesterday in the community involved, the police were quick to point out that it was the Governor that authorized the hasty burial. The Governor has definitely acted in a contradictory manner here. Whether that was out of lack of experience or other factors is not yet known. But it must be pointed that Nigerian Governors often exhibit poor judgment even on simple matters. Example of poor judgment was the case of Enugu State Governor, who concealed information about his reasons to be out of office for four months just to avoid rumors about his health conditions. So, Governor Obi could just have exhibited a terrible error of judgment in permitting the hasty disposal of the bodies of the men fished out the river.
Could there have been a political motive for what happened? Any governor faced with the menace of kidnapping in Anambra Sate could have been pushed to take the laws into his hands and support extra-judicial executions of suspects. We all know that the situation had all gotten out of hand and the State was seriously threatened by the spate of kidnapping. In such a situation, there is an incentive to do away summarily with any body the police tells the Governor was an either an armed robber or a kidnaper. That may be it. But it is still wrong and a crime against humanity. After all, in another youtube video I watched, the same Governor ordered the automatic closure of a hotel were four alleged kidnappers were arrested. The fact is that the Governor does not have the power to ordered any hotel or commercial building closed just because crime suspects were arrested in such a place. At that time, the Governor had not even waited to know whether the people arrested would be convicted or whether the owner of the hotel knew anything about their involvement in crime. For him to order the immediate closure of the hotel on the spot and warn that he would close any other hotel or building that was used by suspects was an extraordinary abuse of power and a clear tendency to take the law into his hands. Also, we realize that this Governor did not have his own Bakassi Boys, and might have needed to collude with the Police Commission to get around not having his own private mechanism for jungle justice.
So, in that circumstance, people should be careful before they assume that Igbos are not involved in the killings of the Igbos. For that same reason, I want to fight this as a case of crime against humanity and gross abuse of human rights, not necessarily as an ethnic cleansing matter. I want the ICC to get involved. I do not trust any agency of Nigerian Government to be able to conduct an honest investigation into this matter. I will forwarding my analysis and any further information to the Office of the Prosecutor for the ICC.