Nzuko Umunna, a group of Igbo professionals say the shoot at sight order reportedly issued to troops in the South-East is a declaration of war by the Nigerian Army.
An open letter dated May 11, signed by Dr. N. Odumuko and Dr. P. Mbanefo advised the military to tread with caution.
The letter was addressed to Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and copied to the Defence Headquarters, Defence Ministry, the United Nations as well as the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, among others.
The organization noted that the directive seems to have been given unofficially in a hush-hush manner, making the situation more ominous.
They warned that a ‘shoot-on-sight is tantamount to an order to exterminate innocent citizens as there is no telling who might be part of the collateral, unintended casualties.
“Throughout history, such military strategies or policies 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 whereas in this case, there is a clear and evident danger of such action resulting in high casualties. If the speculation was to bear any atom of truth, then it amounts to a declaration of war on the area.”
Nzuko Umunna said even if the federal government decided to declare war on the South-East or a part of it, then it must observe the standard international protocols for such engagements.
“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.”
The group questioned the Army directive and contended that the situation in the South-East is not different from the insecurity in other regions.
Nzuko Umunna urged Attahiru to clear the air on “this very disturbing issue” and explain the order it described as overzealousness, so as to douse the tension and rumours of planned extra-judicial killings.