Open Letter To The Nigerian Chief Of Army Staff – Killings In The South East

May 14, 2021

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May 11, 2021

Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru,
Chief of Army Staff,
Army Headquarters,
Plot 1092 Mohammadu Buhari Way,
Area 7, Garki, Abuja.

Dear Chief,


We feel duty-bound to inform you that there is palpable fear over a Shoot-On-Sight directive reportedly given to Army troops in the South East in recent days, a scheme for which new batches of men were moved over the weekend.

By some accounts, this directive seems to have been given unofficially in a hush-hush manner, making the situation all the more ominous.

A Shoot-On- Sight directive is tantamount to an order to extra-judicially exterminate innocent citizens as there is no telling who might be part of the collerteral, unintended casualties.  Throughout history, such military  strategies or policies have  always run the risk of going contrary to all accepted conventions and protocols on the rules of engagement, particularly the Rome Statutes

In fact, it can be read as Genocide where as in this case, there is clear and evident danger of such action  resulting in high casualties.

If the speculation of a Shoot-On-Sight order were to bear any atom of truth, then it amounts to a declaration of war on the area.  However, even if, for any reason, the Federal Government is minded to declare war on the South East or a part of it, there are standard international conventions and protocols that must be observed. One of such is the requirement to publicly and unambiguously declare that a war situation has arisen in such a place so that those who wish to, especially the civilians and innocent citizens, can withdraw from such a place.That has not been done.

But it is our well considered contention that there do not exist in the South East of Nigeria any peculiar situation which does not exist in even worse forms in other parts of the country to warrant or justify such a Shoot-On-Sight order.
 And we put whoever thinks to the contrary to the strictest of proof.

Based on these, our position is  that it is in the overall interest of the country  that you use your good offices to not only clear the air on this very disturbing issue but also counter any such directive in case it has, by some fluke or stroke of overzealousness, been issued.

We most respectfully urge you to use your good offices to intervene, as a matter of urgency, in this very critical matter to douse the tension and apprehension in the region arising from rumours and the expectation that the killings  and unnecessary waste of human lives will escalate.

We are by this letter bringing this properly to your notice with the hope you will take preemptory action.


Dr. N Odumuko ,
Dr.P. Mbanefo.
For Nzuko Umunna.
(Nzuko Umunna is a Think-Tank of Igbo intellectuals and professionals all over the world.)

The Chief of Defence Staff,
The Minister of Defence,
The Chief of Staff to the President
The United Nations Agency on
Human Rights,
Human Rights Watch,
The United States Embassy,
The High Commission of United Kingdom,
The French Embassy,
The Russian Embassy
Amnesty International
The Nigerian Human Rights Commission.

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