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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

BIAFRA Protest: Amnesty International Warns Security Agencies Against Use of Force

BIAFRA Protest:  Amnesty International Warns Security Agencies Against Use of Force

Amnesty International has asked Nigerian security forces to exercise restraint in their response to the planned demonstrations in some state today. PRO-BIAFRA group, MASSOB, asked the people in the south east states to sit at home today to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the BIAFRA war.

The human rights group charged the force to avoid a repetition of bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down.
A statement by the group says, “Last year’s heavy-handed response against pro-Biafra activists further stirred up tensions in the south-east of Nigeria.
The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful detention,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force.”
During peaceful Biafra Day celebrations last year in Onitsha, Anambra State, soldiers shot people in several locations. Amnesty International research concluded that at least 60 extra-judicial executions were committed in the space of two days, with a further 70 people injured. The real number is likely to be higher.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that members of the Nigerian security forces fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse pro-Biafra gatherings, resulting in the death of at least 150 people, no person suspected of criminal responsibility has been brought to justice”.
A similar pattern of lack of accountability for gross violations by security forces has been documented in other parts of Nigeria including the northeast in the context of operations against Boko Haram.
“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the government of Nigeria to initiate independent investigations into allegations of crimes under international law. President Buhari has repeatedly promised that these would be looked into. However, no progress has been made”.
In November 2016, Amnesty International warned that the Nigerian government’s massive deployment of the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for the violence as they have no specific training in crowd control.
Instead, public order during peaceful protests should be dealt with by the police, whose officers should be adequately trained and equipped to respond to crowd-control situations without resorting to the use of lethal force.

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