Nigerian Security Forces Tortured and Killed Pro-Biafra Protesters–Amnesty International

By Ikenga Chronicles November 24, 2016

Nigerian Security Forces Tortured and Killed Pro-Biafra Protesters–Amnesty International

At the wake of the Amnesty International report revealing the execution and torture leading to the death of more than 150 pro-Biafra protesters across Nigeria’s south-east, sources are of the view that the extreme killings were triggered by forces in Aso Rock.

‘’We have in our possession a video evidence  showing the secret meetings that led to the  killings of Pro-Biafran demonstrators in Abia State being attacked by the Nigeria military’’ a source revealed.

Recall that protesters, including women, were marching at a high school when they were met by state security, including military and police, who tear-gassed and beat them.

They were then forced into police vans and trucks, where the violence against them continued.

The Amnesty International report entitled: “Bullets Were Raining Everywhere: Deadly Repression of Pro-Biafra Activists”, released on Wednesday relied on the analysis of 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eye witness testimonies that revealed soldiers of the Nigeria military firing live ammunition to disperse protesters, most of them members of the separatist group –Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB)– without warning.

According to AI, at least 60 defenceless IPOB protesters were shot dead within the two days leading to the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30.

In May 2016 during a visit to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, President Muhamamdu Buhari suggested that it is better for Nigerians to commit mass suicide than for the actualization of the breakaway state of Biafra.

“We will not let that happen. For Nigeria to divide now, it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned” he had said.

The Amnesty International report revealed that the largest number of IPOB members was killed during the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30, 2016.

It stated that as over 1,000 members of the group gathered for a rally in Onitsha, Anambra State, security forces swooped on their homes and a church where they were sleeping.

“On Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations. Amnesty International has not been able to verify the exact number of extrajudicial executions, but estimates that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days. The real number is likely to be higher” the organisation revealed in a statement accompanying the report.

The organization said it reviewed videos of a peaceful gathering of IPOB members at Aba National High School on February 9. The Nigerian military surrounded the group and then opened fire on everyone in sight without any warning. The report also revealed the disturbing use of widespread torture and ill-treatment of those arrested by the military.

AI stated that despite overwhelming evidence detailing the extrajudicial killings and torture of protesters, no action has been taken by Nigerian authorities to investigate them or punish perpetrators.

It stated that this lack of accountability for human rights violations by the military is similar to documented cases in other parts of the country especially in the country’s north-east region where the military fights a war against Boko Haram.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the government of Nigeria to initiate independent investigations into evidence of crimes under international law, and President Buhari has repeatedly promised that Amnesty International’s reports would be looked into. However, no concrete steps have been taken,” said Kamara.

Meanwhile, in a move aimed at countering the planned release of AI’s report, government had stated that the report was an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the Nigerian security forces and that of the army especially.

The statement by the acting director of army public relations, Sani Usman, a colonel, stated that IPOB members relished in the use of violence that threatens the security of the country.

It claimed that IPOB members attacked and killed people from other ethnic groups in the south-east and injured several soldiers and policemen. The statement also claimed that the protesters vandalised military and police vehicles.

He stated that the military acted within its mandate and in fact, approached the protesters with restrain despite their use of “unjustifiable violence”.

“The evidence of MASSOB/IPOB violent secessionist agitations is widely known across the national and international domains.  Their modus operandi has continued to relish violence that threatens national security.  Indeed between August 2015 and August 2016, the groups’ violent protests have manifested unimaginable atrocities to unhinge the reign of peace, security and stability in several parts of the South East Nigeria,” the statement read.

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