At least 115 people have been killed and 500 arrested in the South-East region in atrocities by Nigerian security operatives in four months, according to a damming report by Amnesty International.
This was contained in a report by the Rights group released on Wednesday.
Most of the atrocities were said to have been committed in Imo, Anambra and Abia.
It also alleged that both the military and police jointly tortured innocent civilians and subjected them to cruel treatment in their numerous raids.
According to the report, the security agents haunted South-East residents, believing without evidence that they were part of the ESN that have killed their men and attacked government infrastructural facilities.
Also among those who became victims of the excessive use of force by security operatives were the volunteers of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a militia arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The report read, “Amnesty International documented at least 115 persons killed by security forces between January and June 2021. Many relatives of the victims told Amnesty International that they were not part of the militants that were attacking security agents.
“Many of the victims were deposited at government hospitals in Imo and Abia states. According to several hospital sources all the victims deposited by the police had bullet injuries.
“Nigerian security forces have committed a catalogue ofhuman rights violations and crimes under international law in their response tospiralling violence in southeast Nigeria, carrying out a repressive campaign since January which has included sweeping mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment,” said Amnesty International in the statement.
“The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of ruthless excessive force by Nigerian security forces in Imo, Anambra and Abia states,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director at Amnesty International.”
It also stated that media firms and eyewitnesses documented some of these inhumane activities of the army and police against armless civilians.
“Nigeria’s government has responded with a heavy hand tokillings and violence widely attributed to the armed group calling itself Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of the Indigenous People ofBiafra (IPOB), a pro-Biafra movement.
“According to government officials, the ESN killed dozens of security operatives and attacked at least ten public buildings, includingprisons, police stations, and other public buildings from January to June. In response, security forces comprising military, police, and Department of State Services (DSS) have killed dozens of gunmen, as well as civilians where attacks have been committed.
“Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the security forces have engaged in excessive use of force, physical abuse, secret detentions, extortion, burning of houses, theft, and extrajudicial executions of suspects.
“Human rights groups estimated that the death toll ofviolence between January and June 2021 in Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi statesmight run into the hundreds. The police said ESN fighters killed 21 of its personnelin Imo state alone.
“Amnesty International carried out an extensive investigation to document the human rights violations and crimes under international law in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia states from January 2021.
“The organisation documented 52 incidents of unlawful killings and 62 cases of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture. Media reports, video and audio recordings reviewed show that the Nigerian security forces also employed excessive force and other unlawful means to address the rising violence,” the statement continued.
Amnesty International drove home its points with the unlawful killing of of a German-based Nigerian, Uguchi Unachukwu who was gunned down by soldiers at Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri in May 2021. It also spoke about another man, Matthew Opara shot dead by soldiers near Owerri on May 25.
“Uguchi Unachukwu, a German-based businessman was killed by soldiers on 31 May at a checkpoint near Owerri airport on his way out of the country. The police are yet to investigate the crime.
“Mathew Opara, a 45-year-old businessman, was shot by soldiers on 25 May 2021 in Orji, near Owerri. Witnesses told Amnesty International that he was returning from work when he ran into a team of soldiers in an armoured vehicle and Hilux vans shooting at residents.
“He was shot in the chest and could not receive immediate medical help because of the violence. His family said the military acknowledged the killing but did not launch an investigation or offer any apology.”