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So Sad: Security Operatives Killed 115 People In South-east In Four Months, Amnesty International Reveals

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At least 115 people were killed by security operatives in the south-east from March to June 2021, according to Amnesty International.

The human rights organisation said the country’s security forces deployed “excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment” to address the rising violence in the south-east region.

Since the beginning of 2021, the south-east has witnessed a series of violent attacks ranging from killing of security operatives, burning of government facilities — police stations and electoral commission offices —to other violent crimes.

The police authorities have on several occasions blamed the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its security outfit, Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the violence.

TheCable, in a report, found out that killings in the south-east tripled after the security outfit was launched — but the group denies any wrongdoing.

Amnesty International, in a statement, said security operatives responded by killing “dozens of gunmen and civilians” in places where attacks occurred in the region.

The international organisation said it had documented 52 incidents of unlawful killings and 62 cases of arbitrary arrest and torture carried out by security operatives from January 2021.

The organisation narrated the ordeal of a 37-year-old man, who was arrested in Imo state in May 2021, because his colleague had a birthmark that the police claimed bore semblance with IPOB’s symbol.

It also narrated how Uguchi Unachukwu, a Germany-based businessman was allegedly killed by soldiers on May 31 near Owerri airport in Imo state on his way out of the country.

“Amnesty International documented at least 115 persons killed by security forces between March and June 2021. Many relatives of the victims told Amnesty International that they were not part of the militants that were attacking security agents,” Amnesty said.

“Many of the victims were deposited at government hospitals in Imo and Abia state. According to several hospital sources all the victims deposited by the police had bullet injuries.

“Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the security forces have engaged in excessive use of force, physical abuse, secret detentions, extortion, burning of houses, theft, and extrajudicial executions of suspects.

“Human rights groups estimated that the death toll of violence between January and June 2021 in Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi states might run into the hundreds. The police said ESN fighters killed 21 of its personnel in Imo state alone.

“In May 2021, the Imo state government announced the arrest of at least 400 people allegedly linked to the violence. Amnesty International’s investigation indicates that most of them were randomly picked up in their homes and off the street and had nothing to do with ESN.

“Some victims told Amnesty International that they were arrested while walking in the street, at a public bar or simply for having birth marks or tattoos on their body.”

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