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February 24, 2017

That Amnesty International report on Biafra

Recently, the Amnesty International released a report on the killing of some innocent and harmless Pro-Biafra agitators. It was based on interviews with 200 people, 100 photographs and 87 videos.

According to the report, more than 150 peaceful IPOB and MASSOB protesters have been killed since August 2015. It said that Nigeria’s military used live ammunition and deadly force against Pro-Biafra protesters, who were campaigning for independence from Nigeria. While the police denied allegations of use of unnecessary force to snuff life out of these harmless youths, the army accused Amnesty International of trying to tarnish its reputation. But on its part, the human rights organization said Pro-Biafra protests had been “largely peaceful”, despite occasional incidents of protesters throwing stones and burning tyres and one occasion when someone shot at the police. “Regardless, these acts of violence and disorder did not justify the level of force used against the whole assembly”, said the human rights organization.

Among the allegations contained in the report are what Amnesty called, “extra-judicial executions, when 60 people were shot and killed in Onitsha in the two days surrounding Biafra Remembrance Day of May 2016.

Ordinarily, we would have called on the Federal Government to order a thorough investigation into the killings but unfortunately, government itself is the accused. For that reason, we consider it fit, proper and urgent that the National Assembly, which by law is constituted by elected representatives of the Masses, should set up a judicial panel to unravel what happened. The terms of reference of such a judicial commission of inquiry should include but not limited to providing answers to the following questions: Who ordered the shootings? To what extent do the videos released by Amnesty International show how and where the Pro-Biafra protesters were slaughtered? Why were the heinous crimes by the military concealed until now? Shouldn’t the right thing have been to order their detention and arrest rather than shoot and kill the Pro-Biafra protesters? Why hasn’t any law maker come up with a motion condemning the killings at Aba and Onitsha and calling for investigation into such cold blooded massacre of innocent Nigerians? Why have the people of the areas where these atrocities took place chosen to be complacent instead of crying out for justice?

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We are saddened by the fact that the same government that had resources to order for the killing of Pro-Biafra agitators, lacks the resources with which to check the incessant killing of farmers across the country by Fulani herdsmen who turn their farms into grazing fields for their cattle. Why is government unable to stop the marauding AK47 and other dangerous weapons-carrying herdsmen from destroying both crops and their owners? Or is there a subtle design to shield these murderous herdsmen from justice? This tendency of security agencies not dealing with these murderous herdsmen with decisive force or getting them to face the full wrath of the law as a consequence of their actions portrays Nigeria as a country at war with itself. No country can move forward under such circumstances.

Those who are in control of the state apparatus of coercion should not yield to the temptation of perpetuating injustice by applying double standards. Let our lawmakers be reminded of their sacred duty to order thorough investigations into the killing of those IPOB/MASSOB agitators. Such extra judicial killings must not be allowed to continue except we want to accept that the rule of law has no place in our country. That amnesty report on Biafra must not be swept under the carpet.


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