The Nigerian army today issued a press statement describing a yet to be released report by Amnesty International as a “campaign of calumny against the Nigerian army.” According to the statement, signed by the Deputy Director for Army Public Relations Colonel HA Gambo, the unpublished Amnesty International report will address violence against the protesters from the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The latest wave of tension between the Nigerian army and Amnesty International follows the killing of IPOB and MASSOB protesters in Onitsha, Anambra State by the military. During the clash between the army and protesters at least seventeen unarmed people were shot by the military.
Mr. Gambo wrote that Amnesty International issues statements “without recourse to fairness, objectivity, all aimed at rubbishing the Nigerian Army for reasons best known to them.” He the immediately followed up with the speculation that this was their attempt “to be relevant and justify funding.”
It will be recalled that the army, on June 3rd 2015, openly stated that Amnesty International supported Boko Haram because “Amnesty International (AI) becomes more active in presenting distractive allegations whenever the terrorists are losing ground in battle.”
Damian Ugwu, the Nigeria Researcher at Amnesty International, told SaharaReporters that “our researchers found most of the shooting was done by the military.” He added that “we interviewed 32 witnesses, visited hospitals, met injured people, and went to the church [where violence took place].”
Mr. Ugwu also emphasized that "we are simply asking for an independent investigation on the incident on the 30th and 31st of May" so that "the perpetrators of the killing can be brought to justice."
The Nigeria Country Director for Amnesty International, MK Ibrahim, told media that “opening fire on peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly posed no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.”
Mr. Gambo, however, stated that “the military and of course the other security agencies acted professionally within the extant Rules of Engagement.”