Amnesty Wants Rivers Shooting Probed


Gov. Rotimi Amechi of River State.

The Nigerian government must set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate  the use of firearms by security forces that left at least one person dead and 12  seriously injured at Bundu waterfront last year, Amnesty International said in a report  released today.

The report titled Port Harcourt Demolitions: Excessive Use of Force Against  Demonstrators, details how on 12 October, 2009, armed security forces opened fire on a  crowd of people peacefully protesting against the proposed demolition of their homes in  Bundu community, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Gov. Rotimi Amechi of Rivers State.

“The excessive use of force seen in the Bundu shooting is just one of many examples of  the brutality with which the police and army operate throughout Nigeria ,” said Lucy  Freeman, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher. “But few officers are held  accountable and in most cases no investigation is carried out.”

The 18-page report offers eye witness reports from the victims of the Bundu shootings as  well as from women who were intimidated and beaten by security personnel.

”The soldiers started shooting again but this time, they fired shots into the crowd. I  was shot on my left thigh,” recalls 34-year old Tamuno Tonye Ama. “We tried to run away  but there was nowhere to go. Soldiers kept firing and…charged towards the crowd and  people were now running all over the place.”

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Amnesty International has gathered clear evidence that the security forces opened fire,  shot and injured several people on 12 October, however the governor of Rivers State told  Amnesty International that “there was no firing, no shooting and no-one was killed or  injured on the day. In fact, nothing happened at all.”

“The issue of impunity is one that is all too entrenched in Nigeria ,” said Lucy Freeman.  “The government cannot keep turning a blind eye to the human rights atrocities committed  by its security forces.”

Lethal force and firearms should only be used in circumstances that are justified under  human rights law and standards and firearms should be regarded as potentially lethal in  all circumstances and at all times.

The excessive use of force by Nigeria ’s security forces in Bundu waterfront community is  contrary to Nigeria ’s international human rights obligations and commitments.

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