IHEU has protested to the Nigerian government about the
brutal persecution of Leo Igwe, IHEU Representative for West
Africa, and his family. Igwe and members of his family have been
subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment by Nigerian police, soldiers
and criminals. The latest attack, on August 4, resulted in grievous injuries to
Leo’s elderly father, who lost an eye as a result. The harassment is the result
of the Igwes’ efforts to bring to justice a powerful local man accused of raping a ten
year old girl.
IHEU’s letter of protest to the Nigerian President is reproduced
below, followed by Leo Igwe’s report on the latest attack in the campaign
against him and his family.
H.E. President Goodluck Jonathan
President of Nigeria
Nigeria Brussels, 7 August 2010
The delegates to the General Assembly of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, meeting in Brussels from 5th to 7th August 2010 wish to bring to your attention the systematic harassment suffered for the past three years by our representative for West Africa, Mr Leo Igwe, and members of his family by criminal elements, aided and abetted by the police and public officials in Mbaise in Imo State.
Mr Igwe and members of his family have been arrested or detained for questioning on at least eight separate occasions, they have been subjected to physical beatings, their home has been raided by armed police and Mr Igwe has been falsely charged with murder. All of these incidents occurred after Mr Igwe, a well-known human rights activist, was approached in 2007 by the family of a 10 year old girl rape victim and asked to help bring the rapist to justice.
In an attempt to pervert the course of justice, supporters of the rapist have bribed the police to harass Mr Igwe, the police claim to have lost written testimony describing the rape, and have failed to hand over the file to the State Prosecutor.
In the latest incident on 5th August Mr Igwe’s father who is in his 70s and in poor health was attacked by two gunmen in his home and beaten unconscious with rocks. He is now in serious condition in hospital.
Despite calls to the police commissioner by officials of this organization, the harassment continues.
We appeal to Your Excellency to urgently look into this matter and to use your good offices to end the harassment and bring the perpetrators to justice.
President, International Humanist and Ethical Union
Cc : Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Nigerian Federal Minister for Justice
Nigerian Federal Inspector General of Police
Commissioner for Justice, Imo State
Leo Igwe gave this report on the latest incident:
Around midnight of Wednesday August 4 2010, two gunmen
invaded my family house in Mbaise in Imo state in Southern
Nigeria. They shot twice in the air and my mother fainted. They later
descended on my aging father and started beating him. They blindfolded him with
a piece of cloth and hit him several times with stones.
He later fainted and the hoodlums ransacked the whole house and made away with
whatever they found valuable. My father bled from the right eye, nose and
mouth. He had bruises on his head, hands, legs and chest. After the attack,
some neighbours came and rushed him to a nearby hospital. From there, I moved
him to an eye hospital in Lagos
where the doctor confirmed that he had extensive injuries in the right eye and
recommended that it be removed. Yesterday, August 11, 2010, he underwent a
surgery and the right eye was removed. He is currently recuperating at the
hospital. I called the police to inform them. And they said I should send a
For more on the background to this campaign of harassment