Biafra massacre: Group faults UN Special Rapporteur’s report

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A civil rights group, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has faulted the position of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Arbitrary and Summary Killings or Executions, Dr Agnes Callamard, after her recent two-week visit to Nigeria.

The frontline rights group in a statement issued from its headquarters in Onitsha, signed by Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head of Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Obianuju Joy Igboeli; Head of Campaign and Publicity Department, Evangeline Chidinma Udegbunam and Head of Int’l Justice and Human Rights, Ndidiamaka Bernard noted that Dr. Agnes Callamard’s visit to Nigeria in spite of all odds, was a courageous, bold step and timely.

However,  Inter-society said  that Dr Agnes’ team’s findings as contained in her End of Visit Statement were just a tip of the iceberg compared to what was actually on the ground and that two weeks were not enough to unearth the litanies of state-actor and non-state actor atrocities in the country.

Expressing concerns over some missing points found in the UN Chief’s End of Visit Statement, the group faulted the casualty figures quoted in the report concerning the arbitrary killings of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), contained in paragraphs 47-52 of the UN chief’s End of Visit Statement.

Noting that the statistics given with respect to casualty figures were brutally under-represented, Intersociety said that 480 deaths and 500 injuries were recorded in the state-sponsored attack on IPOB members between 2015 and 2017 and not “250” quoted in the UN rapporteur’s statement.

“It must be pointed out that our opinion on this and the correct position as it ought to be, have since been transmitted to the UN’s Anti-Extra Judicial Killings Chief, for purpose of having them reflected correctly in her subsequent reports as well as guiding her factually to take correct positions on the subject matter.

“That it is not only that the Nigerian government refused and failed to treat the wounded in the killings, numbering over 500, but also dozens have died as a result of untreated injuries with dozens more crippled for life. It was also documented in the report how Nigerian security forces particularly the police (SARS) and army personnel invaded at late night and in broad daylight, the hospitals and clinic treating the wounded, disrupted their treatments and abducted them to unknown destinations without traces to date.

“The wives and children of the victims have not only been abandoned by the Nigerian government to wallow in abject poverty and deprived of education or access to same, but also, the government has refused and failed to offer commensurate compensations to the survivors including the wounded and nuclear family members of the slain.

“We also rose in strong disagreement concerning the UN chief’s statement, implying that “the broad nature of the country’s legal provisions particularly the existing 1999 Constitution have made it possible for the perpetrators to exploit such loopholes or ouster clauses to kill and maim defenceless and unarmed citizens at will and go scot free.” This is contained in Paragraph 57 of the referenced statement.

“That we totally disagreed and still disagree with the UN chief on this and make bold to say that “Nigerian laws do not support killing and maiming of defenceless and unarmed citizens including those in religious sanctuaries or those in peaceful street protests or those in religious processions or that inside perimeter-fenced compounds singing and praying or those in their sleep,” the statement noted.