Amnesty International says Nigeria had zero executions in 2015 but Kaduna state begs to differ

Last week, Amnesty International released its annual report on death sentences and executions in 2015. The report takes a look at countries all over the world that still use the death sentence, looking at the number of executions carried out in these countries. Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United States of America and Pakistan currently have the highest numbers of executions. Saudi Arabia killed at least 158 people, while Iran had 977 executions, most of them for drug-related offences. Nigeria, in contrast, had 171 death sentences with no execution while still retaining its death penalty laws. However, new reports concerning the clash between the Nigerian Army and the Shiite followers in Kaduna state Nigeria last year, suggest that Nigeria deserves to be a top executioner like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

One of the worst attacks on civilians by the Nigerian Army occurred last year when it attacked a procession of a Muslim sect in Nigeria. After the dust had settled, officials of the Kaduna state government, where the incident occured, have finally released their findings about what went down. On their way to a military ceremony late last year, members of the Nigerian Army and their Chief of Staff, Tukur Buratai, were stopped by a procession of a Shiite Islamic group in Nigeria, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) who people claim have been radicalised. In a video circulated after the incident, after a few minutes, Nigerian Army leaders were seen begging the procession to allow them pass through, while young members of the procession were seen bearing sticks and knives like they were going for a fight. The Nigerian army then attacked the sect using live ammunition, baffling especially when their counterparts in other nations have learnt to use rubber bullets and such to quell violence.

Reports after this became blurry and controversial as the head of the movement El Zakzaky was arrested by the Army while the group’s headquarters was destroyed. Many reports of human rights abuse by the Nigerian Army and the senseless killing of children and women emerged, but this latest report has put a definite number on the number of Shiite followers killed by the Nigerian Army: 347 civilians, including women and children.

The Kaduna state government said all 347 people were “given a mass burial in a cemetery in Kaduna state” a few hours after they had been slaughtered by the army, according to Muslim rites. This latest report confirms that the Nigerian army is lawless, especially since the fight against Boko Haram started. Different Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have accused the Nigerian Army of human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings since the fight against Boko haram started. And just like every panel set up by the Army to allegedly investigate these killings, the panel set up to investigate the Shiite killings is heading for a dead end.

This is an indictment on former Military General and current Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari who has called himself a “reformed democrat” but his media silence about the Army killings suggests the reformation happened to his doppelgänger in a parallel universe. Tukur Buratai could only have authorised such disregard for human lives, especially the ones he swore to protect, if he knew he was not receiving any censure from the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, Buhari. Nigerians would surely be looking up to Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court to bring the Nigerian Army to justice, since the Federal Government seems reluctant to do so.

Amnesty International’s report that Nigeria had no court-ordered execution in 2015 is true, but the number of indirect executions due to government negligence and a glaring ‘i-don’t-care’ attitude seems to suggest that we deserve a higher position in the “Death sentence and Execution 2015 report.”

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