Senators under the umbrella of the South East Caucus in the Senate have told the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to immediately set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the alleged killing of about 150 defenseless members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
Issuing a statement issued in Abuja, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Chairman of the caucus, stated that the report by the Amnesty International (AI), which painted a chilling picture of the killing of peaceful protesters allegedly by the Nigerian Army was not only embarrassing to Nigeria, but also casts doubts on the operational mode of the Nigerian military in handling civil protests in a constitutional democracy.
“It is not enough for the Nigerian military to debunk the report, we as a caucus demand an independent inquiry in the mould of a judicial panel and urgently too.
“It is our candid view that such a panel would reassure the Igbo that the Federal Government is alive to its responsibilities which is the protection and respect of the fundamental rights of all people irrespective of tribe or religion.
“Unravelling the authenticity of the report would help to prevent a re-occurrence just as it will engender unity in our country. But the most important to us now is that the report must be probed and those implicated made to face justice,” Abaribe said.
AI, in a report released on Wednesday, alleged that no fewer than 150 pro-Brafra protesters in the South East were killed by the Nigerian security forces led by the military.
The international group lamented that despite the overwhelming evidence that the Nigerian security forces committed gross human rights violation, including extra-judicial executions and torture, no investigations have been carried out by the authorities.
Meanwhile, the army has denied killing peaceful pro-Biafra activists.
Besides, army said the “AI is intent on dabbling into the national security of Nigeria.”
Col. Sani Usman, army spokesperson, said the allegation was an attempt to “tarnish the reputation of security forces” while stating that the Nigerian army’s actions towards the agitators have always been in defence of the security of the nation.
“We wish to debunk the insinuation that our troops perpetrated the killing of defenceless agitators. This is an outright attempt to tarnish the reputation of security forces in general and the Army in particular, for whatever inexplicable parochial reasons.
“For the umpteenth time, the army has informed the public about the heinous intent of this non-governmental organisation (NGO), which is never relenting in dabbling into our national security in manners that obliterate objectivity, fairness and simple logic.
“The evidence of MASSOB/IPOB’s 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 unleash the reign of peace, security and stability in several parts of the South East.”
However, MASSOB and IPOB have lambasted the army for denying they killed unarmed members of the pro-Biafra groups between 2015 and this year.
The group, while commending AI for its report said it under-reported the killings of its members by security agencies in the county. It said more than 150 members were killed and injured within the period under review.
The Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, said over 2,000 members were killed, 750 missing and 567 undergoing medical treatment in different hospitals.
The leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu said the denial of the army was an act of cowardice and fear.
“The report was welcomed by the IPOB who have been in the forefront of struggle for the restoration of Biafra nation. But the 150 report which was given by the Amnesty International was not the accurate number of IPOB and Biafrans killed since August 2015 till date.
“In the same vein, we have 370 people undergoing severe torture in different prisons and security cells across the country from hands of security agents.
“Right now, the DSS and other security agencies in Nigeria are still searching for the members of IPOB across the country, some are still in the DSS secret cells since six months without being taken to court and kept incommunicado in different places.”
“Importantly, we commend the reports from Amnesty international who stand bold to condemn the crime against humanity committed by the government of Nigeria and her security agencies in the face of the world.”
“Nature will surely baring Biafra to reality. The blood of dead innocent women and. Hidden of Biafra shall never be in vain? Buhari cannot fight corruption without justifying the extra judicial killings of both IPOB and MASSOB members who had never kill anyone or attack any village or take people land or destroy people’s farms but only focus on their course for self determination”.
Madu continues: “But Nigeria Army with their rule of engagement had never arrested or bring any Fulani herdsmen to justice but rather they resort to securing their vows and arming them with AK47 to fight against Christians. They will not rule forever and the day of judgement and reckoning is at hand, the evil committed against Biafrans will continue to hunt Nigeria until Justice is done