A rights group, Amnesty International, has accused security forces in Nigeria of killing at least 150 members and supporters of the pro-Biafran organisation IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra).
It also says hundreds have been injured during non-violent meetings, marches and other gatherings.
In a report released by the group on Thursday and entitled, “Nigeria: ‘Bullets Were Raining Everywhere’ Deadly Repression Of Pro-Biafra Activists”, Amnesty International claimed that the killings occurred between August and now, with hundreds also arbitrarily arrested.
It said that the report focused on the crisis brewing in the southeast of Nigeria, where IPOB campaigns for an independent state of Biafra.
“Video footage and eyewitness testimony consistently show that the military, which has been deployed instead of police to control pro-Biafran events, has dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition with little or no warning.
“This report documents extrajudicial executions and the use of excessive force by military, police and other security agencies.
“It also shows a worrying pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, including soldiers arresting wounded victims in hospital, and of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Hardly any allegations of crimes under international law and human rights violations by the Nigerian security forces, and in particular the military, are investigated.
“If an investigation is carried out, there is no follow up.
“Because no one has been seen to be held to account for serious human rights violations, an already pervasive culture of impunity within the military has been further strengthened,” the report alleged.
The group further alleged that the military was currently deployed in 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), insisting that frequent deployment of soldiers has resulted in many cases of excessive use of force, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances throughout the country, and in particular in the northeast, southeast and north central regions.amnesty-international-report
It further claimed that it had repeatedly called on the government of Nigeria to initiate independent and effective investigations into its evidence of crimes under international law committed by the military, especially in the context of the conflict in northeast Nigeria.
The report further read: “In response, President Buhari has repeatedly promised that Amnesty International’s reports would be looked into. However, no concrete steps have been taken to begin independent investigations.
“As a result of the apparent lack of political will to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of such crimes, the military continues to commit human rights violations and grave crimes with impunity”.
The rights group said it interviewed 193 people and analysed 87 videos and 122 photographs showing IPOB assemblies, members of the security forces in the process of committing violations and victims of these violations.
It further stated that on 30 September 2016, it wrote to the Nigerian authorities including the military, police and officials of the State Security Service (SSS, also known as Department of State Security, DSS) to share the findings. Responses were received from the Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Inspector General of Police but neither answered the questions raised in the letter.
Amnesty International is recommending that the Nigerian government immediately end the involvement of the military in public order operations throughout Nigeria, initiate independent investigations into the deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists by the Nigerian military and police with the aim of bringing suspects to justice in fair trials
It also asked the state governors of Abia Anambra, Delta and Rivers states to set up judicial commissions of inquiry to investigate the allegations documented in this report.