34,000 Nigerians killed unlawfully since 1999

About 34,000 Nigerians have allegedly been killed unlawfully since 1999 when the nation returned to democratic rule. In a statement yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, the International Society for the Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) regretted that the sanctity of human life and the dignity of human persons were the most abused and degraded in the country.

Intercity prayed that Nigeria does not witness what happened in Rwandan, where about a million people were killed within 100 days.

The group said: “The number of those killed outside the law in Nigeria since 1999 might have increased to 34,000. They include over 160 political assassinations; over 10,000 vigilance-related killings. Over 13,500 killings have resulted from the ethno-religious and inter-communal violence in Nigeria since 1999. These killings were mostly carried out by non-state actors.”

According to the statement by the group’s chairman, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head of Publicity, Mr Justus Ijeoma, killings by Nigerian security forces, particularly the Army and the Police, have resulted in over 10,000 deaths.

Intercity gave the examples of some of the areas of deaths as the Odi community in Bayelsa State, the Zaki-Biam in Benue State, the Gbaramatu in Delta State, and the Niger Delta regions.

It noted that these were among places where the nation’s security forces killed outside the law.

It said: “Out of over 1,000 unlawful deaths recorded during the Boko Haram uprising in 2009, Nigerian security forces accounted for at least 30 per cent. In the Jos crises of 2008, 2009 and 2010, the security officers were found wanting.”

Quoting the 2009 Report of the United States on the State of Human Rights in Nigeria, Intersociety said: “Nigeria’s human rights problem during the year 2009 included the abridgement of citizens’ rights to change their government, politically motivated and extra-judicial killings by security forces, including summary executions, vigilante killings, abduction by militant groups, torture, rape and other cruel, inhuman degrading treatment of prisoners, detainees and criminal suspects.”

It maintained that the major reason the unlawful killings have continued was because of “profound levels of poverty, the failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence (unlawful killings) and discriminatory government policies.”

It noted that “beyond these are the primordial database and locomotive investigation mechanism available in the investigation warehouse of the Nigerian security forces particularly the Nigerian Police Force.”

The group stressed that this “explains why over 160 highly political murders were not conclusively and satisfactorily investigated. The monopoly enjoyed by the Nigerian Police over criminal investigation is like a similar monopoly being enjoyed by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria over power supply.”