By Collins Edomaruse
The Nigerian Army on Thursday denied allegations by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) against it over its face off with Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and described them as not only untrue but also biased.
Acting spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Col. Sani Usman, in a reaction to a publication to that effect by METROWATCH Online, frowned at the HRW and said the principle of fairness demanded that “The organization should have also visited the Nigerian Army and directly hear from them.”
He said “I also expected this respected medium to also ask for reaction of the Nigerian Army.”
On the witnesses interviewed by the HRW, Usman said: “The quoted witnesses, to say the least, were equally biased and their narrative full of fallacies.
“The Nigerian Army is a professional and law abiding body that carries out its duties based on Constitutional provisions and clearly spelt out rules of engagement.
“The incident between Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria has been reported to the appropriate agencies who are investigating the issue.
“It is therefore presumptuous and clearly out of context for anyone to make such unsubstantiated allegations or comments.
“It is advisable that we should wait for the outcome of such investigations.”
The HRW had on Wednesday frowned at the action of the Nigerian Army and said the killing of hundreds of Shia Muslim members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), by soldiers from December 12 to 14, 2015, appears to have been wholly unjustified.
It suggested that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the government should be sufficiently independent and impartial to hold those responsible to account.
The Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 16 witnesses to the killings and five others, including local authorities, who said that Nigerian army soldiers fired on Shia Muslim members of the group at three locations in Zaria, in northern Nigeria.
The army, according to HRW, said its confrontation with the Shia sect members who had erected a makeshift roadblock near a mosque resulted from an assassination attempt on the army chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, whose convoy was passing by.