The United States government says it is concerned by the violence between protesting Shiites and Nigerian soldiers in and around Abuja and has called for thorough investigation of the violence.
“The United States Embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja,” it said in a statement.
“We urge Government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides.”
This comes as defence headquarters (DHQ) has dismissed the report of Amnesty International (AI) on the alleged use of excessive force on protesting members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
In a statement, John Agim, DHQ spokesman, described the instances listed by the human rights group as a figment of its imagination.
The military and IMN members better known as Shi’ites had clashed within the federal capital territory (FCT) for three days.
Amnesty had accused security agencies of attacking the “peaceful” Shi’ite protesters with live ammunition, with the intention of killing them.
Narrating its own side of what transpired in Zuba, FCT, the DHQ said Shi’ite protesters had in a “premeditated” fashion, confronted troops who where transporting live ammunition and missiles to a military formation in Kaduna with the aim of stealing the weapons.
The DHQ said in another instance, the protesters deliberately confronted soldiers at a popular checkpoint along Nyanya – Maraca road leading into the FCT.
He said in both instances, the military acted in self defence, only applying minimum force to ward off the protesters who had dangerous weapons on hand.
The statement read: “The Defence Headquarters wishes to respond to Amnesty International (AI) reports in which the group alleged that the Nigerian military and the police engaged in horrific use of excessive force that led to the killing of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shi’ites during ‘peaceful’ protests.
“The worrisome narrative of the Amnesty International (AI) in matters of national security and cohesion of Nigeria has continued unabated in spite of verifiable evidences to the contrary.
“The Amnesty international’s hate and disdain for peaceful co-existence of Nigerians is manifested in the ways it consistently fabricates lies and gives negative narrative of issues related to Nigeria’s national security and its military.
“The DHQ wishes to emphasize for the umpteenth time that the narratives of the AI are outright falsehoods and calculated attempts at whipping up sentiments and misleading unsuspecting Nigerians as well as demoralizing friendly nations.
“The intentions of AI in Nigeria have remained suspect as the organization is always silent on the other side of issues.
“Nigerians who witnessed how military troops on legitimate duty came under unprovoked attacks from IMN members both in Zuba area of the FCT on Sunday, 28 October 2018 and at a security checkpoint in Mararaba, Nasarawa State on Monday, 29 October 2018 have videos and images of wounded soldiers and damaged military vehicles with audio commentaries. These are available in the public domain.
“Unfortunately, Amnesty International did not see anything wrong with these unprovoked subversive attacks on Nigerian military and other innocent passersby but was quick to refer to the activities of IMN from whom dangerous weapons and ammunition including Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), guns, knives and cutlasses were recovered as a peaceful protest.
“This goes further to prove the point that Amnesty International does not mean well for Nigeria. This is also in tandem with their previous reputation of denigrating the security forces anytime they make gains against the forces of evil to incite the Nigerian public and international community against the Military.”