12th October, 2010
The Nigerian government must set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigateÂ the use of firearms by security forces that left at least one person dead and 12Â seriously injured at Bundu waterfront last year, Amnesty International said in a reportÂ released today.
The report titled Port Harcourt Demolitions: Excessive Use of Force AgainstÂ Demonstrators, details how on 12 October, 2009, armed security forces opened fire on aÂ crowd of people peacefully protesting against the proposed demolition of their homes inÂ Bundu community, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
â€œThe excessive use of force seen in the Bundu shooting is just one of many examples ofÂ the brutality with which the police and army operate throughout Nigeria ,â€ said LucyÂ Freeman, Amnesty Internationalâ€™s Nigeria researcher. â€œBut few officers are heldÂ accountable and in most cases no investigation is carried out.â€
The 18-page report offers eye witness reports from the victims of the Bundu shootings asÂ well as from women who were intimidated and beaten by security personnel.
â€The soldiers started shooting again but this time, they fired shots into the crowd. IÂ was shot on my left thigh,â€ recalls 34-year old Tamuno Tonye Ama. â€œWe tried to run awayÂ but there was nowhere to go. Soldiers kept firing andâ€¦charged towards the crowd andÂ people were now running all over the place.â€
Amnesty International has gathered clear evidence that the security forces opened fire,Â shot and injured several people on 12 October, however the governor of Rivers State toldÂ Amnesty International that â€œthere was no firing, no shooting and no-one was killed orÂ injured on the day. In fact, nothing happened at all.â€
â€œThe issue of impunity is one that is all too entrenched in Nigeria ,â€ said Lucy Freeman.Â â€œThe government cannot keep turning a blind eye to the human rights atrocities committedÂ by its security forces.â€
Lethal force and firearms should only be used in circumstances that are justified underÂ human rights law and standards and firearms should be regarded as potentially lethal inÂ all circumstances and at all times.
The excessive use of force by Nigeria â€™s security forces in Bundu waterfront community isÂ contrary to Nigeria â€™s international human rights obligations and commitments.