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Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, shows the 2016/2017 Amnesty International report during a press conference, in Paris, Tuesday

Amnesty International highlights the level of official lawlessness in Nigeria

Amnesty International published their 2016/2017 annual report yesterday and the Nigeria section is troubling.

It states in the opening part of the section: “The conflict between the military and the armed group Boko Haram continued and generated a humanitarian crisis that affected more than 14 million people. The security forces continued to commit serious human rights violations including extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. The police and military continued to commit torture and other ill-treatment. Conditions in military detention were harsh. Communal violence occurred in many parts of the country. Thousands of people were forcibly evicted from their homes”.

The report includes sections on the treatment of pro-Biafran agitators:

Unlawful killings

The military was deployed in 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja where they performed routine policing functions including responding to non-violent demonstrations. The military deployment to police public gatherings contributed to the number of extrajudicial executions and unlawful killings. Since January, in response to the continued agitation by pro-Biafra campaigners, security forces arbitrarily arrested and killed at least 100 members and supporters of the group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Some of those arrested were subjected to enforced disappearance.

On 9 February, soldiers and police officers shot at about 200 IPOB members who had gathered for a prayer meeting at the National High School in Aba, in Abia state. Video footage showed soldiers shooting at peaceful and unarmed IPOB members; at least 17 people were killed and scores injured.

On 29 and 30 May, at least 60 people were killed in a joint security operation carried out by the army, police, Department of State Security (DSS) and navy. Pro-Biafra campaigners had gathered to celebrate Biafra Remembrance Day in Onitsha. No investigation into these killings had been initiated by the end of the year.

Enforced disappearances

On 3 April, Chijioke Mba was arrested and detained by the anti-kidnapping unit of the police force in Enugu for belonging to an unlawful society. His family and lawyer had not seen him since May.

On 16 August, Sunday Chucks Obasi was abducted from his home in Amuko Nnewi, Anambra state, by five armed men suspected to be Nigerian security agents in a vehicle with a government registration number plate. Witnesses said he was injured during the incident. His whereabouts remained unknown.

The slow descent of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime into dictatorship also gets a mention here:

Freedom of expression – journalists

The government arrested and detained, some without trial, at least 10 journalists and bloggers.

In August, Abubakar Usman, a prominent blogger, was arrested in Abuja, the capital, by the anti-corruption agency Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and accused of contravening the Cyber Crimes Act. The Commission did not point out the specific provisions the blogger had contravened; he was released without being charged. In September, Jamil Mabai, was arrested and detained by the police for posting comments on Facebook and Twitter that were critical of the Katsina state government.

In early September, the publisher Emenike Iroegbu was arrested in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, over alleged defamation.

On 5 September, Ahmed Salkida, a Nigerian journalist based in the United Arab Emirates, was declared wanted by the military and later arrested by the state security services on arrival in Nigeria. He was among three people arrested and briefly detained for alleged links to Boko Haram and for facilitating the release of a Boko Haram video on the abducted Chibok girls. He was later released; his passport remained confiscated.

Another section deals with the mass murder of members of the Shia sect in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Freedom of association

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), remained in incommunicado detention without trial since his arrest in December 2015. Between 12 and 14 December 2015, soldiers killed more than 350 protesters and supporters of IMN at two sites in Zaria, Kaduna state.

Hundreds of IMN members were arrested and continued to be held in detention facilities in Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau and Kano states.

On 11 April, the Kaduna state authorities admitted to a Judicial Commission of Inquiry that they had secretly buried 347 bodies in a mass grave two days after the December 2015 massacre.

On 15 July, the Commission presented its report to the state government indicting the Nigerian military for unlawful killings. In December, the Kaduna state government published its white paper on the report, which rejected most of the Commission’s recommendations.

On 22 September, the National Human Rights Commission released a report indicting the IMN for provoking the clashes that led to the killings of IMN members and the military for the killings of IMN members. On the same day, police blocked IMN protesters and fired tear gas canisters at members of the IMN during a protest to demand the release of their leader. On 6 October, the Governor of Kaduna state declared the IMN an unlawful society. Following the declaration, members of the IMN were violently attacked in several states across the country, including Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Plateau. Several IMN members were also arrested and detained by the military.

Other sections deal with crises ranging from the conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, arbitrary detentions by the authorities, torture, forced evictions and so on.

The report is available here.


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