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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Biafra@50: Amnesty Int'l warns against clampdown on Biafra agitators




Global human rights watch­dog, Amnesty International (AI), has advised Nigerian security agencies against reckless, bloody and counterproductive re­pression of agitators marking Bia­fra at 50 today across the country.
The group said that security forces had already started clamping down on pro-Biafra groups ahead of the formal anniversary and cau­tioned that such tactics could stir up further tensions in the South East and other parts of Nigeria.

Biafra flag

In a statement issued by the group’s Media Manager, Mr. Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International re­called the brutal crowd control measures of the security forces last year where over 60 peaceful dem­onstrators were killed and more than 70 others injured.
It said that about 150 agitators have been killed between August 2015 and August 2016.

The AI statement said: “On 22nd May 2017, more than 100 members of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MAS­SOB) and Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) were arrested in Enugu, Ebonyi, and Cross Rivers States during similar celebrations.”
“We are calling for the imme­diate and unconditional release of all those who have been detained solely for peacefully expressing their political views or other exercise of their right to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly”.

Also, the Director of Am­nesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, stressed that “the Nigeri­an security forces must exercise restraint when policing demon­strations marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Biafra War on 30th May, and avoid a rep­etition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down”.
Ojigho said: “Last year’s heavy-handed response against pro-Bia­fra activists further stirred up ten­sions in the South East of Nigeria. The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disap­pearance and unlawful detention”.
“We urge the Nigerian securi­ty agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure pub­lic order without resorting to force.”
He said that Amnesty Inter­national research concluded that at least 60 extrajudicial executions were committed in the space of two days, with a further 70 people in­jured.
“Despite overwhelming evi­dence that members of the Nigeri­an security forces fired live ammu­nition with little or no warning to disperse pro-Biafra gatherings, re­sulting in the death of at least 150 people, no person suspected of criminal responsibility has been brought to justice”.
“A similar pattern of lack of ac­countability for gross violations by security forces has been document­ed in other parts of Nigeria includ­ing the North East in the context of operations against Boko Haram.”
“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the govern­ment of Nigeria to initiate inde­pendent investigations into allega­tions of crimes under international law. President Muhammadu Bu­hari has repeatedly promised that these would be looked into. How­ever, no progress has been made,” Ojigho said.



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