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Saturday, 11 June 2016

(FULL REPORT) Frequent killing of Biafrans is outrageous- AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

(FULL REPORT) Frequent killing of Biafrans is outrageous- AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

By Paul Ihechi Alagba
For Family Writers

Amnesty International has described as outrageous and unnecessary, the incessant massacre of Biafran activists in the country by a combined team of Nigerian armed forces.

In a Press Statement released on Friday June 9, Amnesty revealed the details of an independent investigation conducted by its renowned team of researchers pertaining to the gruesome murder of over 30 Biafran activists and the injuring of more than 50 in Onitsha, Anambra State.

   "An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army gunned down unarmed people ahead of last month’s planned pro-Biafran Commemoration events in Onitsha, Anambra state," Amnesty international stated.

  "Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, morgues and hospitals confirms that between 29-30 May 2016, the Nigerian military opened fire on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB), supporters and bystanders at three locations in the town."

 Going further, the statement reads-  "The exact number of death is unknown, partly due to the fact that the Nigerian army took away corpses and the injured. Amnesty International has received reports from various sources on the ground alleging that at least 40 people were killed and more injured.

 "After visits to hospitals and morgues, the organisation has confirmed-based on this initial investigation that at least, 17 people were killed and nearly 50 injured. The real number is likely to be higher."

Commenting on the investigations, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, M.K Ibrahim lambasted the Nigerian government and her security agencies for what he termed as an outrageous unnecessary and excessive use of force to disperse peaceful protests by members and supporters of IPOB-

   "Opening fire peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly posed no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force.

  "These shootings, some which may amount to extrajudicial executions must be urgently and independently investigated and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice." M.K Ibrahim noted.

  Amnesty International discredited the claims by Nigerian military and police that they acted on self defence in the killings as there is no veritable evidence to back up such claims, even as the dead activists and injured ones seen by Amnesty International researchers were shot at the back, indicating they were running away from the shooting scene before they were hit by the bullets. Also they revealed that security agencies in Anambra state were duly informed and notified of the Commemoration Day prior to the event.

   "Amnesty International has seen no evidence that the killings were necessary to protect life.

   "The IPOB members had informed the Anambra state Police Commissioner of their plans for Biafra Remembrance Day and requested for security to be provided for the procession." they revealed.

  Also, disclosing the results of its investigations, Amnesty International stated that a joint security operation was carried out by the Nigerian army, police and navy between the night of 29 May and throughout 30 May, which was intended to prevent a planned peaceful procession by Biafran activists from Nkpor Motor park to the venue of the rally.

  "Before the march began the military raided homes and a church where IPOB members were sleeping" Amnesty International stated. One of the eyewitnesses who spoke to Amnesty International said- "At about midnight, we heard someone banging on the door. We refused to open the door but they forced the door open and started throwing teargas. They started shooting inside the compound. People were running to escape. I saw one guy shot in the stomach. He fell down, but the teargas could not allow people to help him. I did not know what happened to the guy as I escaped and ran away."

 Another person who witnessed some of the killings on May 30 speaking to Amnesty International, detailed how soldiers opened fire on a group of about 20 men and boys, killing five of them instantly. Another witness revealed how an innocent Child hawking along the road was hit with a stray bullet resulting from the sporadic shootings- "I heard a Police siren and everybody started running helter-skelter. I ran away with other people, but before we left, the police fired teargas at us and shot a boy in my presence. He was just hawking in the street. He wasn't even there to protest" he said.

   Reacting to the incident, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, M.K Ibrahim said-

   "This is not the first time that IPOB supporters have died at the hands of the military. It is becoming a worrying pattern and this incident and others must be independently investigated."

"In addition, there must be an end to the pattern of increased militarization of crowd control operations as soldiers are frequently deployed to undertake routine policing functions"

Moreover, the Human Rights NGO stated that it will soon publish a comprehensive report on the inceasant killing of Indigenous people of Biafra since January 2016, even as it criticised the the Nigerian governmen of their inactions regarding their response and investigations into the killings-

   "Amnesty International has been conducting research into violence and killing of IPOB members and supporters in Southeast Nigeria since January 2016. A comprehensive report will be published in the near future," the statement reads.

  "The Organisation research shows that since August 2015, these have been at least five similar incidents in Onitsha alone where the police and military shot unarmed IPOB members and supporters. Amnesty International has documented cases of alleged killings by the Nigerian army between August 2015 and May 2016.

  "The Nigerian government has not conducted any independent investigation into any of these incidents.

International law requires the government to promptly investigate unlawful killing with a they to bringing the perpetrators to justice. Amnesty International is also calling for those IPOB supporters still held in detention without charge to be either charged or released."

   The Non Governmental Organisation however, admonished the Nigerian government to uphold the international principles on human rights and humanitarian laws and also respect and protect the right of Biafrans to peaceful assembly and association, and also right to freedom of expression-

  "The right to peaceful assembly and association, as well as right to freedom of expression is protected by the Nigerian constitution. International human rights standards also require that alw enforcement officials must, as far as possible apply non-violent means. The international lethal use of firearms is only permissible when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life." the statement concluded.

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