Related topics

Nigerian Government Critic Is Shot

September 3, 2002

%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ Gunmen shot an outspoken government critic and his wife, and then mutilated their bodies, police said Tuesday.

Barnabas Igwe, the local chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, and his wife, Abigail Amaka Igwe, were shot late Sunday as they drove through the market city of Onitsha in southeast Nigeria, police spokesman Haz Iwendi said.

It was not immediately clear if they were killed by the gunshots or the subsequent mutilation.

Investigators were still trying to determine if the killing, in the state of Anambra, was politically motivated, Iwendi said. He said nothing was taken from the Igwe’s car.

Chuka Obele Chuka, the bar association’s vice chairman in Onitsha, accused government-sponsored vigilantes known as the Bakassi Boys of killing the Igwes.

Obele Chuka, who is also a human rights lawyer who has witnessed public executions by the Bakassi Boys, said the attackers hacked at the victims’ limbs the same way the vigilantes have done in the past.

Igwe had also received threats from people claiming to be affiliated with the Bakassi Boys, Obele Chuka said.

``The attack had all the trademarks of the Bakassi Boys _ it was a calculated attack using guns and machetes,″ Obele Chuka said.

Iwendi said police had so far found no evidence linking the Bakassi Boys to the killings.

Opposition politicians in Anambra have complained they have been assaulted and received death threats from the Bakassi Boys.

The vigilantes are celebrated as heroes in Onitsha, where crime is down sharply, but have been criticized by human rights groups. Amnesty International says the Bakassi Boys have executed more than 1,000 people, while Human Rights Watch says the vigilantes have tortured hundreds.

The Nigerian Bar Association demanded last week that the Bakassi Boys’ main sponsor, Anambra state Gov. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, resign because many civil servants had not been paid, some in eight months. The association also said it might investigate the government’s finances.

In, July, Igwe had accused Mbadinuju of trying to bribe judges and punishing those who ruled against the state government.

Camillus Ebekue, the Bakassi Boys’ chairman and security adviser to Mbadinuju, said he was ``not aware″ the Bakassi Boys were involved in Igwe’s death.

Igwe had also criticized an out-of-court settlement between President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government and the family of late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha. The deal called for the return of billions of dollars in looted funds Abacha stashed in European banks, but allowed the family to keep $100 million.

Igwe said the settlement was illegal and made Obasanjo’s government an accomplice by allowing the Abachas to keep some of the stolen money.

Update hourly