“Act or resign”: Human Rights Group to Nigeria’s Security Agents after Priest’s Kidnapping

Credit: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety)

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has condemned the September 16-17 kidnapping of over 30 people across Nigeria’s Enugu State, including a Catholic Priest, and called on police bosses in the Nigerian State to either act on insecurity in the region or to vacate office.

Fr. Marcellinus Obioma Okide was abducted on September 17 on his way back to St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish of Enugu Diocese where he serves as Parish Priest. A prayer appeal has been sent out for the Priest’s safe release. Fr. Okide is among dozens of people that were taken by armed Fulani bandits in separate locations within Enugu State.

Intersociety has condemned the police force in Enugu for “looking the other way” and “choosing to be deaf and dumb” as Islamist Fulanis wreak havoc on Christian populations in the Nigerian State and in the entire south-east region of the West African country.

Instead, the authorities are busy killing innocent civilians in the name of a crackdown on the ‘sit-at-home’ order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety says in a Tuesday, September 19 report sent to ACI Africa.

“The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law is deeply shocked and dismayed that more than 30 defenseless citizens of the south-east were abducted in two days in three different locations in Enugu State by the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen, with the Enugu State Police Command…looking the other side and choosing to be deaf and dumb,” officials of Intersociety led by their Board Chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi, say. 


Those that Intersociety want out of office for laxity amid the rampant attacks are Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Kanayo Uzuegbu; Anambra Commissioner of Police, Tony Olofu as well as General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army, Major General Hassan Taiwo Dada.

The three must tackle security challenges in Enugu State “without being selective and partisan as widely perceived or seen as errand boys of the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen,” the human rights activists say.

They add, in reference to the kidnappings in Enugu, “The trio must as a matter of uttermost urgency and extreme public importance speak out including addressing a joint or separate press conferences so as to keep the south-easterners abreast of the abductions and efforts put in place, if any, to rescue the victims and apprehend the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen responsible.”

Between September 16 and September 17, more than 30 passengers and other road users were abducted by Jihadist Fulani herdsmen. 

Intersociety reports that the abductions took place in at least three different locations, including Edem-Nrobo-Ezikolo-Abbi Road in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State where armed Jihadists on September 16 attacked a passenger bus that was traveling to Nsukka town.

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The jihadists are also said to have killed one civilian in Ezikolo-Abbi, shot and wounded others and abducted several others into the nearby forests. 

On September 17, another group of Jihadist Fulani herdsmen launched an attack on a bus that was carrying Fr. Okide and several other passengers; abducting the Catholic Priest and six others, the Intersociety officials say. 

“Earlier on Friday evening of September 15, not less than fourteen passengers traveling from Enugu town to Obollo-Afor in Nsukka in a fully loaded bus were attacked and abducted by Jihadist Fulani herdsmen along Ugwuogo-Opi-Nsukka Road,” the officials say, adding that not less than eleven passengers were also attacked and abducted by the kidnappers on September 17.

Intersociety has called for action to tame insecurity specifically in Enugu, saying, “The unchecked activities of the Jihadist Fulani herdsmen in the south-east have not only risen to an apogee but also mandatorily required that the trio of Enugu State Commissioner of Police…unmask and go after the Jihadists.”

They challenge those in charge of security in Enugu to “retire voluntarily from the Army and the Police” if they cannot match up to what is expected of them.


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.