The controversies thrown up by the Amnesty International, AI, report released on Thursday is yet to die down.
The international human rights group had alleged in the report that the Nigerian Army killed no fewer than 150 members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, during various protests by the group between August 2015 and August 2016.
According to the report, the IPOB members were largely unarmed, except for some few cases where the protesters had hurled rocks and sticks at the security agencies trying to stop the protests.
AI said that it had reviewed a total of 87 videos and 122 photographs as well as interviewed 146 eyewitnesses before arriving at their report.
Part of the report which was titled: “Bullets Were Raining Everywhere”: Deadly Repression of Pro-Biafra Activists, read: “On (May 30, 2016; Biafran) Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations.
“Amnesty International has not been able to verify the exact number of extrajudicial executions, but estimates that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days. “The real number is likely to be higher.”
AI also stated that one of the video clips it reviewed showed “a peaceful gathering of IPOB members at Aba National High School on February 9.”
“The Nigerian military surrounded the group and then opened fire on everyone in sight without any warning.
“Many of the protesters were then rounded up and taken away. Four days later, 13 corpses including some of the men taken away were found near the Aba Highway,” the report stated.
The human rights organization also reported that some of the IPOB members who were arrested and detained by soldiers both in Aba and Onitsha, were put through immense torture.
Narrating his ordeal, a man detained at the Onitsha army barracks revealed that “those in the guard room were flogged every morning. The soldiers tagged it ‘Morning Tea’”
Interim Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Makmid Kamara, opined that “the Nigerian government’s decision to send in the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for this excessive bloodshed.
“The authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to book.”
“It is chilling to see how these soldiers gunned down peaceful IPOB members.
“The video evidence shows that this was a military operation with intent to kill and injure,” he said.
Watch the video of the pro-Biafra killings:
However, the military, which seemed to have had a prior knowledge of the report, released a statement earlier on Wednesday, informing the public of the proposed release of the report and exonerating itself of any blame.
Army spokesman, Sani Usman, described the report as an attempt to tarnish the reputation of Nigerian security forces, especially that of the army.
He claimed that the IPOB members had on several occasions attacked and killed people from other ethnic groups living in the south-east.
The statement also claimed that the pro-Biafran group had injured several soldiers and policemen as well as vandalized military and police vehicles.
Usman stated: “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.”
The army spokesman further said that the Biafran agitators also used “crude weapons as well as other cocktails such as acid and dynamites to cause mayhem” in the region.
“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,” he stated.
IPOB is a group that is agitating for the independence of Biafra. It’s founder Nnamdi Kanu is currently undergoing treason and terrorism charges after he was arrested by Nigerian Authorities on October 14.