Amnesty International attempting to tarnish Nigeria security forces’ image – Army

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*Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff.

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*Debunks group’s report on alleged extrajudicial killing of pro-Biafra protesters

 

By Kemi Kasumu

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“For umpteenth times, the Nigerian Army has informed the public about the heinous intent of this Non-Governmental Organisation which is never relenting in dabbling into our national security in manners that obliterate objectivity, fairness and simple logic…In the aftermath of the encounter that ensued between security agencies and MASSOB/IPOB militants, many of our troops sustained varying degrees of injury.  In addition, the MASSOB/IPOB recurrent use of firearms, crude weapons as well as other cocktails such as acid and dynamites to cause mayhem remain a huge security threat across the Region.”

The Nigerian Army Monday debunked the allegation by Amnesty International of mass killing of pro-Biafra protesters in the South Eastern part of the country between August 2015 and August 2016, saying the claims were unfounded.

The Army said the report by the Amnesty International was an outright attempt to tarnish the reputation of the security forces in general and the Nigerian Army in particular, for reasons best known to the group.

The Amnesty complaint

Amnesty International, had earlier in the day come out with a report stating that the Nigerian security forces led by the military, embarked on a chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence resulting in the deaths of at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the South Eastern part of the country.

Attributing their findings to an indepth investigation it carried out, the international body stated that analysis of 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eyewitness testimonies relating to demonstrations and other gatherings between August 2015 and August 2016, consistently showed that the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse crowds. It also finds evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces, including at least 60 people shot dead in the space of two days in connection with events to mark Biafra Remembrance Day.

What really happened – Army

But, in a statement signed by its Acting Director Public Relations, Colonel Kukasheka Usman, responding to the report, the Army said the insinuation that troops perpetrated the killing of defenceless agitators was not correct.

The statement read: “This is an outright attempt to tarnish the reputation of the security forces in general and the Nigerian Army in particular, for whatever inexplicable parochial reasons.  For umpteenth times, the Nigerian Army has informed the public about the heinous intent of this Non-Governmental Organisation which is never relenting in dabbling into our national security in manners that obliterate objectivity, fairness and simple logic.

“The evidence of MASSOB/IPOB violent secessionist agitations is widely known across the national and international domains.  Their modus operandi has continued to relish violence that threatens national security.  Indeed, between August 2015 and August 2016, the groups’ violent protests have manifested unimaginable atrocities to unhinge the reign of peace, security and stability in several parts of the South East Nigeria.

“A number of persons from the settler communities that hailed from other parts of the country were selected for attack, killed and burnt.  Such reign of hate, terror and ethno-religious controversies that portend grave consequences for national security have been averted severally through the responsiveness of the Nigerian Army and members of the security agencies.

“These security agencies are always targeted for attack by the MASSOB/IPOB instruments of barbarism and cruelty.  For instance, in the protests of 30 – 31 May 2016, more than 5 personnel of the Nigeria Police were killed, while several soldiers were wounded, Nigeria Police vehicles were burnt down same as several others of the Nigerian Army that were vandalized.”

In the statement, the Army also claimed the strategic Niger Bridge at Onitsha came under threat which led to disruption of socio-economic activities.

“In the aftermath of the encounter that ensued between security agencies and MASSOB/IPOB militants, many of our troops sustained varying degrees of injury.  In addition, the MASSOB/IPOB recurrent use of firearms, crude weapons as well as other cocktails such as acid and dynamites to cause mayhem remain a huge security threat across the Region.

“In these circumstances, the Nigerian Army under its constitutional mandates for Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) and Military Aid to Civil Powers (MACP) has continued to act responsively in synergy with other security agencies to de-escalate the series of MASSOB/IPOB violent protests.

“Instructively, the military and other security agencies exercised maximum restraints despite the flurry of provocative and unjustifiable violence, which MASSOB/IPOB perpetrated.  The adherence to Rules of Engagement by the military has been sacrosanct in all of these incidents.

“Therefore, it is rather unfortunate for the Amnesty International to allow itself to be lured into this cheap and unpopular venture that aims to discredit the undeniable professionalism as well as responsiveness of the Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.”


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