Both the Nigerian Police and the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), in separate statements on Thursday, debunked Amnesty International report on the clashes between protesting Shiites and the security forces.
Amnesty claimed that 45 Shiites, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria(IMN) were killed during the protests and accused both the police and the military of using maximum and deadly force.
But the police debunked the report as exaggerated and false.
“The Nigeria police force wishes to state categorically that the allegation against the police by the Amnesty International is in its entirety untrue,” said Jimoh Moshood, the police spokesman.
The spokesman said that the report was a clear misrepresentation and absolute distortion of facts to divert attention from the heinous crimes committed by the IMN members.
He said that the group had carried out a provocative attack on police personnel and set ablaze a patrol vehicle in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday.
Moshood said that in spite of the provocation from the members of the group, the force resisted the use of maximum force on them.
“To set the record straight, there was no report of death in any police station in the FCT from the police intervention and quelling of the disturbance of public peace and public safety”.
The Defence Headquarters expressed worry that the narrative of the Amnesty International (AI) in matters of national security and unity of Nigeria has continued unabated in spite of verifiable evidences to the contrary.
In a statement on Thursday by Brig.-Gen. John Agim, the Acting Director Defence Information (DDI), the DHQ said the AI’s “hate and disdain for peaceful co-existence of Nigerians was manifested in the ways it consistently fabricates lies and gives negative narrative of issues related to Nigeria’s national security and its military.”
According to the DDI, the AI report was not a true reflection of what transpired in the last few days.
Members of IMN or Shiite clashed with the military on Saturday and Monday at Zuba and Kugbo/Karu bridge junction, all in the FCT, as they tried to push themselves into the city centre for a protest.
“For the sake of the good people of Nigeria and the international community who quest for the truth, what the AI “cooked up” in that report is a figment of its own imagination to further paint Nigeria black among the comity of nations.
“The military has never been sent to stop the protesting Shi’ites group at any given time.
“On the events referred to by the AI, the soldiers were not after the protesting Shi’ites, neither was there such number of casualties.
“Instead, a convoy from the Army Headquarters Garrison Abuja was conducting a routine shipment of ammunition and missiles to a military formation in Kaduna escorted by troops when they ran into the protesters at Zuba in FCT.
“The protesting Shi’ites not only prevented the convoy from proceeding on its mission, but also attempted to overrun the escorts to cart away the shipment.
“Hence, the troops had to protect the goods and extricate themselves from the imminent mob action by applying minimum force,” Agim said.
He explained that the next day, the IMN also had another confrontation with the military at a popular checkpoint along Nyanya – Mararaba road, leading into the FCT.
Agim said that the check point had been in existence since 2014 after the Boko Haram Terrorist attack on Nyanya Motor Park.
“Unfortunately, the group tried to overrun the checkpoint in which the military resisted.
“In all these attacks, the IMN was the aggressor while the military only acted in self defence.
“The Shi’ites actions were planned and premeditated as the group were aware of the existence of the military checkpoint and were prepared to confront the soldiers.
“The casualty of IMN stands at four wounded and three dead at Zuba while at the Nyanya – Mararaba road checkpoint, three died with three wounded,” he said.
According to him, the military also had six of its personnel seriously wounded and currently at intensive care.
“The DHQ wishes to emphasise 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 demoralising friendly nations.
“The organization has continued to churn out reports that are outside the confines of the principles of objectivity, truth and balance reportage which provides all sides to the story the way it happened.
“Sadly, AI’s past activities in Nigeria and its negative reportorial of the Nigerian Armed Forces is capable of emboldening the IMN in its unwholesome activities.
“Also, what AI is doing could stop friendly nations from collaborating with Nigeria in its war against insurgency,” Agim added.
He said the intentions of AI in Nigeria had “remained suspect as the organisation is always silent on the other side of issues.”