The South South Zone of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO is worried over the attacks on people on peaceful procession in Port Harcourt on Monday, January 20, 2017 by heavily armed security operatives, including military, police and DSS. It was gathered that the peaceful procession was organised by members of Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra, IPOB as a show of solidarity with Donald Trump, the new president of US on the day of the inauguration of his administration.
We have gathered that the people who were armed with only flags and banners were singing and jubilating when security operatives opened fire at the crowd at very close range. Even as they dispersed and were running for safety, the invading security officials chased them, shooting as they were running. About 11 persons were allegedly killed while many others were injured. We also gathered that scores of others were arrested and taken to different detention centres in port Harcourt where we fear that they may be subjected to tortures and other inhuman treatments.
An eye witness disclosed that one of those killed was beaten with gun butts and nozzles and marched with military booths until his stomach tore open and his intestines gushed out. The security operatives were also said to have broken into peoples’ shops at Waterlines and Garrison areas, looting peoples’ goods.
We condemn the attacks on the unarmed crowd and the killing of people who were merely exercising their right to freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association guaranteed under different human rights instruments, including Universal Declaration on Human Rights as well as African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory.
We consider the killings a flagrant violation of their inalienable rights to life. The security officials also violated Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, adopted by General Assembly resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979 which states that “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”.
We condemn the use of soldiers, excessive force as well as live bullets to attack or disperse peaceful protests, which have become a pattern under the present regime. It is the duty of the government to promote human rights under the human rights framework rather than conscripting them.
As human rights organisation, we cannot fold our hands and watch human rights being trampled upon with impunity. Consequently, we demand as follows:
* that the officials involved in the attacks and killing of unarmed civilians should be fished out and prosecuted for extrajudicial murder in accordance with the law.
*that the IG and Army chief should recover and return all the items looted by the soldiers or pay for the looted items;
* that the shops and propertied damaged by the soldiers and policemen and DSS should be rebuilt;
*that those arrested and taken away should be released unconditionally as it is not a crime for one to exercise their fundamental human rights;
We further demand that security officials detailed to checkmate or contain protests should be made to be guided by principles of human rights.