Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, has lamented how enforcers of the sit-at-home directive given by Simon Ekpa, the Finland-based self-proclaimed disciple of Nnamdi Kanu, are killing residents of the southeast who are going about their legitimate business.
Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is being detained by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The professor of International Human Rights Law at the Fletcher School of Economics and Political Science made the remarks during an exclusive interview with 90MinuteAfrica's Rudolf Okonkwo on Sunday.
"I have lost multiple family members," he lamented. He called out Simon Ekpa, saying his irresponsibility had led to wanton bloodletting and killings across the region.
The Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (TJPC) explained that any sit-at-home observance should be voluntary, and a case where people are shot at, killed, and desecrated for disobeying Ekpa directive is unacceptable.
Prof. Odinkalu acknowledged the right of people to withdraw their habitual allegiance from any authority as a form of protest, but he insisted that that withdrawal must be exercised voluntarily.
"When you go about shooting people because they are trying to go and survive, that is no longer sit-at-home," he said, criticizing the antics of the secessionist group.
The law professor also drew attention to some factors contributing to Simon Ekpa's and his group's relevance in the southeast. He alluded that Simon Ekpa is exploiting the lacuna created by government failure in the southeast.
"If the government were relevant to the people, you would not be having an idiot like Simon Ekpa, sitting in Finland with a wife who is white, telling Nigerians what to do," Odinkalu said. "It is because the politicians in the region have failed the people; that's why people like Simon Ekpa are able to do what they are doing."
Odinkalu revealed that the menace caused by the activities of the secessionist group IPOB only constitutes a fraction of the violence ravaging the southeast region.
Odinkalu, who has been tracking extrajudicial killings in Nigeria for over two decades, reiterated that organized crime in the southeast is at a proportion that many people have yet to grasp.
According to him, the organized crime networks running the region are involved in "drugs, arms, and trafficking of different things," He also stated that politicians at very senior levels, both from the southeast and neighboring states, are deeply involved in it.
"So we have transnational drug gangs involved in the situation in the southeast that are bringing in arms into the region," the human rights lawyer revealed. "Some of the arms also come from other parts of Nigeria using the network of the Lower River Niger, both the main course of the river and its tributaries."
Emphasizing the complexity of the crime networks competing for the control of the southeast region, Odinkalu alleged that those who are supposed to be involved in trying to stop the illicit activities had become key players in the political economy of transactions around the burgeoning crime networks in the region.
Odinkalu, the Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (TJPC) tasked with identifying the causes of the restiveness and violence in the southeast, also revealed a "political geography" to the killings in the region. He elucidated the main drivers of violence in the southeast to be IPOB-related, drug-related, and cultism.