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Friday 22 January 2016

Biafra: Eleven deaths due to police violence against pro-Biafra protesters

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) reports that eleven Biafrans have lost their lives in a bloody crackdown on protesters in southeastern Nigeria since Sunday. The human rights organization now demands the establishment of an investigative commission to clarify the extent and the backgrounds of the violence. “The security forces must be held accountable for the excessive use of force in the crackdown. This is the only way to prevent a further escalation,” said Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Africa-expert, in Göttingen on Wednesday. The human rights organization sharply criticized the behavior of the security forces, who are denying the fact that several Biafrans got killed during the protests – despite contrary reports from doctors and eyewitnesses. Since December 2, 2015, a total number of 26 Biafrans lost their lives in the demonstrations against the illegal detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the former Director of Radio Biafra.

Last Sunday, eight supporters of the organization “Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” got killed in Aba (a city with 1.7 million inhabitants in the state of Abia) when, despite a demonstration ban, they publicly demanded Kanu to be released. There were also protests in the cities Asaba and Engu (both in Delta State). Here, 30 Biafrans were injured and 26 were arrested in the crackdowns.

On Monday, three protesters got killed in the city of Aba when soldiers opened fire on a demonstration. Once again, the police denied responsibility for any injuries or deaths, stating they only used teargas.
“The ruthless and disproportionate actions of the security forces are obviously stoking further tensions and violence in the south-east of the country,” warned Delius. Rather than trying to de-escalate, Nigeria’s security agencies rely on confrontation and on demonstrations of power. This leads to even more tensions, as the protesters are growing more and more resentful over the arbitrariness of the authorities, who are keeping Nnamdi Kanu locked up although a court had decided that he should be released. Originally, Kanu was supposed to be heard at the Supreme Court in Abuja on Sunday, but the trial was postponed to January 21 because the judge did not turn up.

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