Amnesty International says security operatives approached members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) who protested in Abuja not to restore public order but to kill them.
The IMN members better known as Shi’ites have been demanding the release of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, their leader.
El-Zakzaky has been in detention since 2015 when members of the movement clashed with soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna state.
Over 300 Shi’ites were said to have been killed by the military and buried in a mass grave same year.
In a statement on Wednesday, Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said the soldiers firing live ammunition to disperse a peaceful gathering without warning is “clear violation of Nigerian and international law.”
“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members,” Ojigho said.
“Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law.
“Those injured were shot in different parts of the body – head, neck, back, chest, shoulder, legs, arms – and some of them had multiple gunshot wounds. This pattern clearly shows soldiers and police approached IMN processions not to restore public order, but to kill.
“Amnesty International has evidence that the military used automatic firearms during Monday’s protest, in which at least 122 protesters sustained gunshot wounds and at least 39 were killed. At least six people were killed in protests on Saturday.”
She said the military is “deliberately” using tactics designed to kill when dealing with IMN gatherings.
“Many of these shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions,” Ojigho said.
“This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable. They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life.
“Many injured IMN supporters have sought medical treatment in unofficial buildings due to fear of arrest if they go to hospital.”
She called on the federal government to “impartially” investigate the matter and bring to justice those responsible for the extrajudicial execution killing of IMN supporters.
“The continuous failure to investigate these gross human rights violations is fueling a dangerous disdain for the sanctity of human life in Nigeria,” the director said.