#Biafra: Amnesty International Urges Security Operatives To Exercise Restraint

Biafra protesters

By Ige Olugbenga

Amnesty International (AI) has urged Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint when policing demonstrations marking the 50th anniversary of Biafra on 30 May.

The director of Amnesty International Nigeria. Osai Ojigho, in a statement on Tuesday, tasked security agents to avoid a repetition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response which led to the death of more than 60 people.

“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.

“We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force.” she said.

Discharged weapons

“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,” said Osai Ojigho.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the government of Nigeria to initiate independent investigations into allegations of crimes under international law. President Buhari has repeatedly promised that these would be looked into. However, no progress has been made,” said Osai Ojigho.

Crowd control measures

In November 2016, Amnesty International warned that the Nigerian government’s massive deployment of the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for the violence as they have no specific training in crowd control.

On 22 May 2017, security forces arrested more than 100 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Biafra Independent Movement (BIM)  in Enugu, Ebonyi, and Cross Rivers states during similar celebrations.

Immediate release

“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,” said Osai Ojigho.

In a report released in November 2016, Amnesty International revealed that at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters were killed by the security forces between August 2015 and August 2016.

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