No fewer than eight unarmed persons were executed by Nigerian security forces at Umuona and Isuofia in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State, a civil rights group said on Monday
Intersociety, a group based in Anambra state said the killing occurred on Saturday shortly after gunmen attacked a military checkpoint at Isuofia-Umuona roundabout in Isuofia; the hometown of the Anambra state governor, Chukwuma, killing one soldier.
The Anambra state police command had claimed on Saturday that five unknown gunmen were “neutralized” by joint security forces comprising the military, police, and other security agencies in Umuona, Isuofia, and Aguata LGA.
However, in what seems to be a direct contradiction of the police account, INTERSOCIETY in a statement signed by its Chairman Board of Trustees, Emeka Umeagbalasi, described the victims as “unarmed and defenseless citizens”.
“About ten minutes after the attack at Isuofia, surviving soldiers joined by others went on terminal or deadly shooting spree, creating more panics and forcing defenseless citizens to flee for safety. It was in the process that four defenseless citizens were shot dead including a cyclist, a teenage boy going to his mother’s shop where she fries beans cake, a half-dead man shattered by military bullets, bundled into military vehicle by soldiers and a man running into his compound for safety and shot and killed by an armed soldier escaping from the scene”.
“ Not done; about 20-30 minutes later, soldiers regrouped and headed to Orie-Umuona Market Square by St Maria De Goretti Catholic Church, Umuona where they opened fire on defenseless citizens running for safety, killing four and injuring scores. One of the slain citizens, an indigene of Umuona escaping from shooting bullets, was pursued by a soldier into a family compound where he was dragged out, shot on his sensitive head-body region and killed instantly. The soldiers instantly picked three of the corpses on the spot while another slain body lying lifeless close to St Maria De Goretti Catholic Church, Umuona, was later picked and dumped in a military patrol van and taken away. Hours later, the Nigerian Military authorities costumed and camouflaged the unarmed dead bodies and publicly displayed them as “gunned down unknown gunmen”. This, the Military personnel did, in addition to shattering the back windscreen of a Venzer car possibly abandoned for safety by an innocent road user and displayed same as “a vehicle recovered from the unknown gunmen”. The statement said
The Nigerian military has not yet responded to this allegation.
There have been similar allegations against the Nigerian security forces in the recent past. One of the most prominent cases of a cover-up by the police occurred in June 2005. In what came to be widely known as the Apo six killings, men of the Nigerian police on June 7, 2005, executed six traders returning from a night club in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. The next day their bodies were paraded by the police as armed robbers who were killed in a firefight with the police. A widespread public outrage forced the government to open an investigation. The subsequent Judicial Commission of Inquiry indicted six police officers for the murders and recommended their trial as well as compensation for the victims’ families. In March 2017 a court in Abuja sentenced two of the indicted police officers to death for their part in the extrajudicial execution of the six traders. Three other police officers including the leader of the police team were acquitted. One of them allegedly escaped from custody in 2015.
Similarly, on September 20, 2013, men of the Nigerian army and the Department of State Security(DSS) executed eight persons in an uncompleted building owned by an army General in Apo Legislative quarters Abuja. The victims were squatters consisting of truck pushers, scavengers, and water vendors known as “mai ruwa.” The DSS had described the incident as a “shootout” between security forces and Boko Haram terrorists.
However, in April 2014, the National Human Rights Commission inquiry established that the victims were “merely poor civilians who used the building as a shelter and had no connection with the terrorist group neither were they in possession of weapons”