The Nigerian Army has urged relevant authorities in the south-eastern part of the country to set up an inquiry to investigate allegations of killing of Igbo youth by soldiers.
In a statement on Saturday, the army top hierarchy denied claims that its officers were responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 youth in the south-east.
The army described the allegation as “unjustified, invidious, and over flogged.”
“For emphasis and clarity, the Nigerian Army as an accountable, morally and professionally sound organization had variously through its Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters, painstakingly investigated allegations of rights violations and the results indicated specifically that this claim is false, malicious and should therefore be ignored for the sake of Nigeria,” said Sagir Musa, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations.
The Campaign for Democracy, a civil society group, on January 4 issued a statement accusing the Nigerian Army of human rights abuses of un-armed pro-Biafra activists.
“It is on record that two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership has witnessed the highest number of killings of innocent Nigerians than the previous 17 years of uninterrupted democracy and past military administrations put together,” said Dede Uzor, the group’s national spokesperson.
It was not the first time the CD would accuse the army of extra-judicial killings.
In July last year, the group had alleged that federal forces were responsible for the deaths of about 6,000 Igbo youth as well as over 800 detained in various prisons without trial.
In addition to Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra; Chidiebere Onwudiwe, IPOB’s national coordinator, Benjamin Onwuka, leader of Biafra Zionists Movement, and hundreds of others are still languishing in Nigerian jails, according to the group.
While denying all the claims, the Nigerian army also absolved its officers from an Amnesty International report indicting Nigerian Security Forces in the “killing of No Fewer Than 150 Peaceful Pro Biafra Protesters” in the South Eastern part of Nigeria with different captions in the media.
“These story lines are referring to the encounter between the Nigerian Army and MASSOB/IPOB protesters between August 2015 and August 2016,” Mr. Musa, a colonel, said.
“All these have been severally thoroughly refuted in many media platforms by the Nigerian Army and it is the same position that this rejoinder has soundly adopted.”
Mr. Musa said the Nigerian Army under its constitutional authorization to aid Civil Authority and Military Aid to Civil Power would continue to act in the best interest of the nation (in collaboration with other security agencies) to de-escalate violence and checkmate security threats across the nation.
“This task must be done, despite the sordid propaganda and possible politicization of the issue by ill meaning Nigerians,” he said.
“Finally, looking at the recurrent posture of this allegation, the 82 Division Nigerian Army wishes to state that relevant authority/ies in the South East are at liberty to set up an inquiry into this accusation with the view to getting to the roots and end of this obnoxious and unfounded claim.”