Amnesty International (AI) has raised the alarm that 150 pro-Biafra protesters in Nigeria’s South East were killed, but the military has discredited the report.
Amnesty said in its report released early on Wednesday that its findings were based on analysed 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eyewitness testimonies.
These sources, it said, related to demonstrations and other gathered between August 2015 and August this year.
Pro-secession agitators have continuously accused the military of mass killings, using the social media to churn out gory pictures of carnage.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) emerged in 2012 and campaigns for an independent Biafran state.
Almost 50 years ago, an attempt to establish Biafra state led to a civil war from 1967 to 1970.
There has been series of protests, marches and gatherings by members and supporters of IPOB since August last year by the group which has been seeking the creation of a Biafran state.
In spite of the agitation among the youths, the elders, leaders and governments of the five eastern states are not in support.
Tension had hit the peak following the arrest and trial of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who has since remained in detention.
According to Amnesty, ‘’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 east of the country’’.
IN a swift reaction, the Nigerian Army urged the public to discountenance the report.
The military said that Amnesty International had been engaged in planting unfounded storyline of mass killings of MASSOB/IPOB protesters.
“We wish to debunk the insinuation that our troops perpetrated the killing of defenceless agitators,’’ Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, Acting Director Army Public Relations, said in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the report was an outright attempt to tarnish the reputation of the Nigerian Army 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,’’ the military said.
He said that security agencies were always targeted for attack by the MASSOB/IPOB instruments of barbarism and cruelty.
The Army explained that the strategic Niger Bridge at Onitsha had consistently come under threat thus leading to disruption of socio-economic activities.
“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 under its constitutional mandates for Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) and Military Aid to Civil Powers (MACP) , he said, has continued to act responsively in synergy with other security agencies to de-escalate the series of MASSOB/IPOB violent protests.
The military and other security agencies have exercised maximum restraints despite the flurry of provocative and unjustifiable violence, which pro-secessionists perpetrated.