An AP investigation into wanton extra-judicial killings continuing to define the Nigerian military mission in the northeast, reminds of a deadly reality under either a psychologically compromised, worn-out military or an insensitive, tactically slaughterous one. Whether by traumatic stress or by leadership policy, the results are the same and the mortiferous violations have now spread far out of the northeast, across the entire nation.
The heartrending report published February 20th was allegedly behind Nigeria’s Military suddenly setting up of a so-called “Human right violation complaint desk,” after the quick tongue-in-defense of Chief Buratai military spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman had failed to respond to AP’s pre-report questions on the military deadly excesses.
Unconscionable extra-judicial killing pattern across Nigeria
Pro-Biafra groups in a widely distributed letter, presented images and described the finding of 13 bodies, hands-bound with strips of their Biafra flags, tossed in a “borrow pit.” These were believed to be protesters who had been executed by the Nigerian police and army. A harrowing video that recently went viral confirmed the brutality of Nigeria’s military in the region. In the video-recording of the events at a “prayer-ground” in Aba, Abia State, the Nigerian military could be clearly seen taking positions, guns drawn to fire at unarmed Igbo protesters including young men and women.
The video reminded of the formation made around the Husainiyyah Islamic center in Zaria. Soldiers were seen similarly establishing battle formation encircling the unarmed singing and praying pro-Biafran protesters. Later shots were noticed and several were injured or lay dead. At least 13 youth were said to have died from that massacre.
Like the December 12th Zaria massacre, the problem with this Nigerian military brutality is that no where in the world are protests or civil disobedience broken-up with deadly fire by the nation’s military. Shields, batons, water cannons, tear gas, are used as the police or military-police pummel the protesting crowds. Military taking aim and firing on “flagrant” citizens who are not armed with gunpowder-projectile weapons is barbaric, colonial and evil.
Nigeria is once again found perpetrating crimes against humanity without remorse. There is an order in the military to eliminate any problem, suspected problem or person or group that protests against the system. The nation’s police are illegal road-side toll collectors and the military assumes the duty of the police. As in the northeast and in Zaria, in Aba, the army decides on instant justice for people it has judged and condemned to be enemies of its peace. Death is the sentence. Bodies will be dumped. Nigeria’s military chief described himself as “defender of the nation’s democracy.” The police and courts have been sidestepped, and families will not even be dignified with notice of their loss or bodies of the victims.
After hundreds were killed, as many as 705 Nigerians remain missing from the Zaria episode last December. Human rights watch reported that the Nigerian military had dumped hundreds of victims’ bodies in mass graves. About two months later, “Activists” claimed to have found the mass burial ground. There is no government investigation and at least 200 victims have been locked up and denied bail, due charge and trial.
This callous pervasive pattern likely originated in Borno where perhaps it was perfected. The people in the northeast live in perpetual fear of either Boko Haram or the State security services. Weapons are routinely planted on suspects before they are executed. This is an open story. The people have actually gotten desensitized to it and perhaps so has the military. Over the years there have been thousands of cases of military violations against the people of the northeast, according to Amnesty International. A Nigerian military commander accused of crimes against humanity and being behind hundreds of violations, Maj. Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed, who not only violated the citizens but also led his soldiers to their deaths, making them so irate they mutinied against him and tried to kill him, was recently restored to his post by the Nigerian military, “without investigation.” The treacherously betraying reinstatement was a final blow to Nigerian citizens, soldiers and international right organizations.
The military was digging in. It had no regrets. Perhaps PETA should be called, because these lives are going to be taken at will. They don’t matter.
Dr Peregrino Brimah @EveryNigerian