The Nigerian Army has rejected a report by Amnesty International accusing Nigerian troops of killing at least 17 unarmed pro-Biafra supporters in south eastern states of the country.
Amnesty International said it conducted extensive research on the attacks and could confirm 17 killings, but said the number could be as high as 50.
In a statement signed by Deputy Director Army Public Relations, Colonel H.A. Gambo, the army accused Amnesty International of not verifying its claims and seeking to discredit the Nigerian Army.
Read the full statement below:
“The attention of 82 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to insinuations of misdeed being leveled by Amnesty International against security forces during the MASSOB/IPOB violent protests in Onitsha and environs on 31 May 2016. Accordingly, it is deemed imperative for the wrong and misleading impressions with which the public is being fed to be corrected once and for all,” the statement said.
“The synopsis of occurrence on that fateful day is that elements of MASSOB/IPOB engaged in violent protests which were featured with outright disregard for law and order. In the scenario of anarchy that ensued, the pro-Biafran protesters who had chosen the day to mark the 50th Anniversary of Biafra perpetrated a number of unimaginable atrocities to unhinge the reign of peace, security and stability in several parts of Anambra State.
“A number of persons from the settler communities that hailed from other parts of the country were selected for attack, killed and burnt. 2 personnel of the Nigeria Police were killed, several soldiers were wounded, a Nigeria Police vehicle was completely burnt down while another of the Nigerian Army was vandalized.
“The strategic Niger Bridge at Onitsha was at the verge of being captured particularly with the coordinated reinforcement of the violent protesters from the Asaba end of the Bridge. In addition, wanton destruction of lives and properties were brazenly carried out by the protesters who employed firearms, crude weapons as well as other volatile cocktails such as acid and dynamites. In consequence, law, order and security were grossly threatened across the State and beyond.
“The Nigerian Army in synergy with other security agencies under its constitutional mandates for Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) and Military Aid to Civil Power (MACP) acted responsively in order to de-escalate the deteriorating security scenario in-situ. Instructively, the military and other security agencies exercised maximum restraints against the odds of provocative and inexplicable violence that were employed against them by the pro-Biafran protesters.
“The military and of course the other security agencies acted professionally within the extant Rules of Engagement to successful de-escalate the budding anarchy in-situ. It is rather inconceivable for any individual or group to have decided to inundate the general public with an anecdote of unverified narratives in order to discredit the Nigerian Army in the course of carrying out its constitutional duties despite the inexplicable premeditated and unprovoked attacks in the hands of the violent pro-Biafran mob.”
Written by Olufunke Edidi
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