- Amnesty International has slammed the Nigerian security forces for killing pro-Biafra protesters.
- The NGO has called on the government to avoid using violence against activists and to respect the rule of law.
- The federal government responded that it does not consider pro-Biafrans to be a serious threat.
Nigerian security forces have used excessive force against pro-Biafran protesters in south-eastern Nigeria, Amnesty International has claimed.
Lucy Freeman, senior research adviser at Amnesty, told IBTimes UK the NGO has documented instances of excessive force used against protesters connected to the pro-Biafran movement.
Pro-Biafrans hold regular marches across south-eastern Nigeria calling for independence and the the release of her Nnamdi Kanu.
It is believed that during one of the latest demonstrations held in Aba state on 9 February, at least ten people were killed by the army and police, with footage purportedly showing security forces attacking pro-Biafrans being widely circulated on social media.
"What is happening in south-eastern Nigeria is not a conflict situation and the law enforcement model that has been used is not appropriate," Freeman said.
"It is not appropriate to use lethal force on protesters, even in case of a violent protest.
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"There are consistent reports of excessive use of force, deaths and injuries of people connected to the Biafran movement."
“The Nigerian government is obligated to carry out investigations that have to be independent, impartial and effective,” she said.
“It is not enough to deny allegations and people need to be prosecuted and brought to justice."
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Freeman confirmed that an Amnesty team is on the ground to investigate the allegations of violence during recent pro-Biafran protests.
"It is a difficult context because you have so much cover-up by the military. In an ideal situation if someone dies by the use of force, there should be an autopsy, some records of the death, of arrests.
What we have seen across the country is that these kind of basic documentation and investigations are not done."
Speaking about recent court cases involving Nnamdi Kanu, the leading pro-Biafra activist who is currently on trial, Freeman condemned the Nigerian government for deliberately prolonging cases by using legal tricks.
"We have seen in several cases the practice of the DSS of arresting someone, holding them unlawfully, and when that person challenges their detention with bail, they are immediately charged with something else to prolong their detention. That's unlawful detention," Freeman said.
"There are a number of people who have been detained in connection to Boko Haram who had a similar thing happened. The question is: To what extent is the rule of law respected?
However, spokesperson for the Nigerian security forces, Rabe Abubakar, told IBTimes UK that the Nigerian police and army do not kill demonstrators.
He added the security forces had to intervene as some pro-Biafrans were allegedly carrying weapons.
The Nigerian government has always maintained that Nigeria's unity is a priority for the country, and although peaceful pro-Biafran protests are welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories is against the constitution.
The government also told IBTimes UK that it does not consider the separatist movement a threat to the current leadership, and described pro-Biafrans as an insignificant threat.