The renowned human rights group, Amnesty International, disclosed on Wednesday operatives of the Nigerian Army approached members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) with the intention of killing them rather than restoring public order.
The members of IMN also know as Shi’ites have been clamouring for the release of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, their leader who has been in detention since 2015 after a clash between members of the sect and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna state.
In a statement, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said the soldiers firing live ammunition to disperse a peaceful gathering without warning is “clear violation of Nigerian and international law.”
She continued, “We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members.
“Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law.
“Those injured were shot in different parts of the body – head, neck, back, chest, shoulder, legs, arms – and some of them had multiple gunshot wounds.
“This pattern clearly shows soldiers and police approached IMN processions not to restore public order, but to kill.
“Amnesty International has evidence that the military used automatic firearms during Monday’s protest, in which at least 122 protesters sustained gunshot wounds and at least 39 were killed.
“At least six people were killed in protests on Saturday.”
According to Ojigho, the military is intentionally using strategies aimed at killing members of the IMN during processions which “clearly amount to extrajudicial executions”.
“This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable. They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life.
“Many injured IMN supporters have sought medical treatment in unofficial buildings due to fear of arrest if they go to hospital.”
She implored the federal government to investigate the matter dispassionately whilst ensuring justice is served to the culprits.
“The continuous failure to investigate these gross human rights violations is fueling a dangerous disdain for the sanctity of human life in Nigeria,” the director said.