By Innocent Anaba
AS denials continue to trail the report by Amnesty International, which indicted the Nigerian military and police of killing no fewer than 240 people, including babies in Borno State and 177 pro Biafran agitators, another group; this time, a local one, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Intersociety, has released yet another report, cataloguing countless numbers of extra-judicial killings in the last 20 months.
The report, according to Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, chairman of Inter-society at the official presentation of the report in Anambra State, said it was a compilation of widespread human rights abuses in Nigeria in the past 20 months.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the side of the Nigerian Police, and other security agencies mentioned in this report proved abortive, as they declined comment. But a source in the army said that the force had earlier reacted to a similar report, while a source at the Police said the matter had been directed to the legal department for comment.
According to Umeagbalasi, “The report is majorly focused on civil and political rights, which is one of the four internationally existing generations of human rights. These fundamental liberties include citizens’ constitutional and legal rights as well as regional and international rights provided in Sections 33-46 of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution and several regional and international legal and rights instruments or treaties accepted and assented to by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Intersociety also gathered reliable data and information from leading victim-groups such as Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Shiite Muslim sect and authorities of the ECWA Church and the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan in Kaduna State. The data gathered were independently verified. We also conducted series of interviews with accompanied legal certifications from members of some dead victims’ families and the shot and wounded victims or survivors.
“Various citizens’ constitutional and legal rights and safeguards in Nigeria as well as their regional and international counterparts which the Federal Republic of Nigeria willingly assented to and accepted to be bound by, were also studied and applied in the course of this special report. Pieces of useful information from security establishments and other agencies of the Government of Nigeria available at open sources were considered as well.
“Lot of criminals or unlawful deaths were also recorded in the said past 20 months. This is the highest in the history of democratic Nigeria, particularly under a non war situation. The most shocking part of it is that the central government and its security agencies particularly the Army, Police and Air Force are collectively responsible for about 52 percent of victims, while the nomadic Fulani and the Boko Haram terrorists accounted for the remaining 48 percent or over.
Some Christian lives were also lost to nomadic Fulani in Nigeria in 2016 in Southern Kaduna while other killings took place in Benue, Enugu, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States, etc. “In January 2017 alone, about 350 defenceless citizens lost their lives to accidential air bombing by the Nigerian Air Force, pro-Trump rally killing by Nigerian Army and nomadic Fulani and Boko Haram Jihadism.
“Through custodial killings arising from torture and shootings, lots of killings were also recorded in the hands of Police SARS, SCIDs and the Army across the country in the said past 20 months. A clear case of custodial killings in Nigeria was the Ezu River saga of January 19, 2013 in Anambra State of Nigeria where between 30 and 40 lifeless bodies strongly believed to be victims of Anambra State Police SARS extra judicial executions were found floating in Ezu River.
“The newest case is contained in the recent Amnesty International Special Report for 2016/17 in which it found that “not less than 240 civilians including 29 children and babies, aged between new born and five years, died in 2016. Yet another case in point was the recent arrest of six operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Anambra State Police Command at Awkuzu.
“The Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Air Force and their chiefs and commander-in-chief on the other hand, are collectively, vicariously and individually responsible for the state murder, unarmed and defenceless citizens between August 30, 2015 and January 31, 2017.
“Other documented state murders contained in this special report are the mass killing of defenceless Shiite Muslims and massacre of unarmed pro-Biafra campaigners in the periods between August 2015 and January 2017 including 15-20 unarmed citizens or more killed at the pro-Trump solidarity rally on January 20, 2017. Several members and supporters of IPOB and Shiite Muslim sect were also shot and wounded by Nigerian security forces in the said past 20 months.
“The number of citizens arrested and dumped in detention without trial in the past 20 months of this government is also alarming and shocking. The authorities of DSS are substantially responsible for this aspect of gross abuse of the citizens’ constitutional and legal rights; likewise muzzling of press freedom and democratic free speeches and reckless disobedience to court orders and other judicial pronouncements. Incidences of harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and bloggers have also gone viral in the past 20 months of this government in Nigeria. In all, the state of human rights violations under this civilian government is horribly and alarmingly widespread.”
Senseless killings and wicked massacre
On the way forward, the report called on the federal government to end the senseless killings and wicked massacre by both security forces and armed opposition groups particularly the nomadic Fulani and Boko Haram Jihadists of unarmed and defenceless citizens individually and massively, as well as other forms of government’s atrocities. There should also be total policy reversal including unconditional release of all political detainees and end to policy of militarism and militarization.
“The Nigerian Government should set aside $5bliion for adequate compensation of victims of state murders and victims of police SARS/Army custodial killings. The $5bn State Crime Victims Compensation Scheme, will be subject to 50 percent upward review every five years if unpaid.
“The sum of $500m should be set aside by the Nigerian government through its Ministry of Police Affairs for compensation of victims, who may most likely have been slain in the past 20 months, by way of custodial killings arising from torture and custodial shootings. This should be done on the basis of proper identification of dead victims by their immediate families and lawyers. The remaining $1bn should be paid by the current government at the centre to the families and the churches of dead Christians who are victims of the nomadic Fulani Jihadism in Nigeria since June 2015.
“This is on account of the central government’s culpability, by way of aiding and abetting. As the national grand patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the president appeared to have allowed personal sentiments to becloud his official position as the father of the country and protector of every citizen irrespective of his or her ethno-religious and age background or identity.
“The central government must arrest and prosecute all the perpetrators of the mentioned heinous crimes perpetrated between June 2015 and January 2017. The principal officers of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria should be arrested and charged for manslaughter as well as immediate proscription of the registered organisation.
“The government at the centre should re-organize and restructure Nigeria’s security establishments and their headships and revert to the constitutional geopolitical equity and fairness in accordance with Section 14 (3) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution. To this effect, there shall be mass sack of the present heads and strategic commanding officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces including the Army, DSS and the Police so as to rid them of their present gross lopsidedness and northern Muslim grips and dominations, which have brought about the present grossly lopsided citizens’ policing representation and protection along divisive ethno-religious lines.