An American-based newspaper, The New York Times, says it has obtained a new video showing soldiers killing unarmed members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites.
The Shiites were protesting the detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, when they clashed with soldiers along the Abuja-Zuba Expressway between October 27 and October 29, 2018
The Nigerian Army had said it killed six members of the Shiites adding that they were “armed with stones and petrol bombs and attacked troops of Army Headquarters Garrison on official duty, escorting ammunition and missiles from Abuja to Army Central Ammunition Depot in Kaduna State.”
However, New York Times said the new video showed that the Nigerian soldiers fired live ammunition at the “unarmed” Shi’ites, contrary to the army’s claim that they were armed.
According to newspaper, the video revealed that some of the corpses had bullet wounds at the back, indicating that they were shot while fleeing.
The report reads, “But a close review of video from the largest and most deadly of the protests, as well as interviews with more than a dozen witnesses, clearly shows the military opening fire on unarmed demonstrators, sometimes shooting indiscriminately into the crowd at close range as people turned and tried to flee.
“Photos and videos recorded that day show at least 26 bodies. The group said it had collected a total of 49 bodies during four days of protests.
“The killings are the latest example of a military that for years has been accused of human rights abuses, with rarely any punishment or action taken, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s promises to crack down on military violations and restore security in the country.”
“But the video from the march clearly contradicts those claims. The melee began that day as more than 1,000 marchers approached a military checkpoint. Soldiers arrived to block off the road. An armoured vehicle with high-calibre weapons patrolled the highway. After soldiers began to fire, they targeted protesters fleeing the chaos. Many of the injured were shot in the back or legs,”it reported.
The newspaper noted that the killing of Shiite marchers six weeks ago generated little outrage in the country as neither Buhari nor members of the opposition condemned the killings.
The president’s “turn-a-blind-eye approach has bolstered the military’s culture of impunity,” said Matthew Page, a former top expert on Nigeria for the State Department.
“Nigerians’ growing frustration with insecurity — whether it be kidnapping, armed robbery, communal violence or terrorist attacks — outweighs the disgust they feel about human rights abuses by security forces,” he said.