The Federal Government has formally rejected the 2015/2016 annual report of Amnesty International (AI) which accused the country’s security and military forces of “extreme” human rights violations and brutal response to security concerns, such as the Biafra agitation, Boko Haram insurgency and Shiites’ movement of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
Government sid this in a statement signed by Clement Aduku, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the weekend.
In the AI report, published in February, the global rights watchdog accused Nigeria’s military of unlawful killings, detention and inhumane treatment of pro-Biafra campaigners, civilians in the north-east and members of the IMN, including its leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, as well as clampdown on freedom of speech.
But, the federal government, through the Foreign Affairs ministry, has questioned the credibility of the AI report and insisted both IMN and pro-Biafra activists were national security threats.
“The ministry wishes to point out that the case of El-Zakzaky, which Amnesty International pronounced on, is a high and national security issue.
“The activities of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and the El-Zakzaky movement in particular are reminiscent of Boko Haram which has become a menace and security concern not only to the Nigeria, but also the Lake Chad Basin region and the entire world. Activities of the El-Zakzaky movement is one that cannot be tolerated by any progressive democratic government.”
The ministry noted that government has appealed the December 2016 court ruling that El-Zakzaky be released unconditionally.
The IMN leader and his wife have been in detention, without trial, since December 2015 after a deadly clash with the Nigerian Army on December 12 of that year, which killed hundreds of his followers, for denying Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, right of way in Zaria, Kaduna State.
While no solider is being prosecuted for killing or ordering the killing of the hundreds of Shiites, Kaduna State Government has since proscribed IMN.
On the AI report on Biafran agitation, the foreign ministry said “the agitation for a sovereign State of Biafra is unacceptable and detrimental to the peace, unity, stability and development of the Nigerian state. The scenario captured and the report itself lacked conformity to both local and international best standards on evidence gathering,” said the ministry.
In a clampdown on Biafran agitators, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has remained in detention and is being tried for treason by the federal government.
Nonetheless, government has expressed commitment to safeguarding citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and association, and that security personnel found to have flouted rules of engagement would be appropriately dealt with.