An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army gunned down unarmed people ahead of last month’s planned pro-Biafran commemoration events in Onitsha, Anambra state.
Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, morgues and hospitals confirms that between 29-30 May 2016, the Nigerian military opened fire on members of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), supporters and bystanders at three locations in the town.
The exact number of deaths is unknown, partly due to the fact that the Nigerian army took away corpses and the injured.
Various sources have told Amnesty that at least 40 people were killed and more than 50 injured. Amnesty has confirmed that at least 17 people were killed and nearly 50 injured following visits to hospitals and morgues. The actual number is likely to be higher.
Some of the dead and injured IPOB supporters seen by an Amnesty researcher were shot in the back, an indication that they were fleeing the scene when they were shot.
Amnesty International Nigeria’s Country Director M. K. Ibrahim said:
“Opening fire on peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly posed no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. In one incident one person was shot dead after the authorities burst in on them while they slept.
“These shootings, some of which may amount to extra judicial executions, must be urgently and independently investigated and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice.”