Finally, Int Community wades in as Amnesty International releases damning report on pro-Biafra agitators killed by Nigerian military

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PostBiafranspalace on Thu Nov 24, 2016 9:37 am


The Nigerian military has been accused of embarking on a “chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence” against pro-Biafran protesters in the South-East, resulting in the death of at least 150 persons in the last one year.
Global human rights watch organisation, Amnesty International, which made the accusation in its latest report unveiled yesterday, said that its analysis of 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eyewitness testimonies relating to demonstrations and other gatherings between August 2015 and August 2016 showed that the military consistently fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse crowds.
The report also revealed evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces, including at least 60 people shot dead in the space of two days in connection with events to mark Biafra Remembrance Day.
Interim Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Makmid Kamara, said this deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists has further stoked tensions in the South-East. “It is chilling to see how these soldiers gunned down peaceful IPOB members.
The video evidence shows that this was a military operation with intent to kill and injure. The Nigerian government’s decision to send in the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for this excessive bloodshed.
The authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to book,” Kamara said. Since August 2015, there has been a series of pro-tests, marches and gatherings by members and supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who have been seeking the creation of a Biafran state. Tensions increased further following the arrest of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, on October 14, 2015.
He remains in detention. According to the report, the largest number of pro- Biafra activists were killed on May 30, 2016 (Biafra’s Remembrance Day) when an estimated 1,000 IPOB members and supporters gathered for a rally in Onitsha, Anambra State. The night before the rally, according to the report, the security forces reportedly raided homes and a church where IPOB members 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 report stated. The military, according to the report, took the bodies of people killed and injured in Onitsha and Asaba to the military barracks in Onitsha.
A man who was detained in the barracks and who saw the corpses dumped in front of the military mortuary said: “Initially, when they were still dumping corpses, I could see 10 to 12 lifeless bodies.
That was in the morning. In the evening, there were more, but I could not estimate.” Chukwuemeka (not his real name), a 25-yearold trader, told Amnesty International that he was shot and taken along with corpses to the barracks. He explained what happened inside the military barracks: “They dumped us on the ground beside a pit.
There were two soldiers beside the pit. The pit was very big and so many dead people were inside the pit. I cannot estimate the number of people in the grave… We were dumped on the ground.”
He said that he escaped and hid in the bushes. In the report, Amnesty International presented some samples of the testimonies its investigators gathered from the field to further buttress its claims that the security forces deployed maximum force on otherwise peaceful pro-testers.
Ngozi (not her real name), a 28-year-old mother of one, told Amnesty International that her husband left in the morning to go to work, but called her shortly afterwards to say that the military had shot him in his abdomen. He said he was in a military vehicle with six others, four of whom were already dead. She told Amnesty International:
“He (my husband) started whispering and said they just stopped (the vehicle). He was scared they would kill the remaining three of them that were alive… He paused and told me they were coming closer.
I heard gunshots and I did not hear a word from him after that.” The next day, Ngozi searched for her husband and finally found his body in a nearby mortuary.
The mortuary attendants told her that the military had brought him and six others. She saw three gunshot wounds: one in his abdomen and two in his chest, which confirmed her fear that the military had executed him.
Amnesty International said it also reviewed videos of a peaceful gathering of IPOB members and supporters at Aba National High School on February 9, 2016.
The Nigerian military, the report said, surrounded the group and then fired live ammunition at them without any prior warning. According to eyewitnesses and local human rights activists, many of the protesters at Aba were rounded up and taken away by the military.
On 13th of February, 13 corpses, including those of men known to have been taken by the military, were discovered in a pit near the Aba highway.
“Eyewitness testimony and video footage of the rallies, marches and meetings demonstrate that the Nigerian military deliberately used deadly force.
In many of the incidents detailed in the report, including the Aba High School protest, the military applied tactics designed to kill and neutralise an enemy, rather than to ensure public order at a peaceful event.
“All IPOB gatherings documented by Amnesty International were largely peaceful. In those cases where there were pockets of violence, it was mostly in reaction to shooting by the security forces.
Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that some protesters threw stones, burned tyres and, in one incident, shot at the police. Regardless, these acts of violence and disorder did not justify the level of force used against the whole assembly.
“Amnesty International’s research also shows a disturbing pattern of hundreds of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment by soldiers during and after IPOB events, including arrests of wounded victims in hospital, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees,” said the report.

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