A2Justice Request Investigation of killings of suspected Boko Haram members at DSS Hq

A2Justice has called on the Nigerian government to immediately constitute an impartial and independent inquiry into the massacre of over 20 persons reported to be Boko Haram members at the DSS headquarters, Abuja on Sunday, 30th March 2014. Following a reported attempt by prisoners - said to be members of the Boko Haram sect - to escape detention. A2Justice maintained that here has been no clear, forthright, convincing justification for such large-scale taking of human lives. "The Boko Haram sect members face considerable public prejudice given the horrifying atrocities attributed to them; yet, it is this negative perception that renders both their members and even those wrongly associated with them so vulnerable to be silenced or violated capriciously. The death of anyone associated with this sect must be subject to the highest scrutiny to avoid people getting away with clear homicides only by the sheer unpopularity of the victim’s ascribed label" A2Justice said.
On Sunday March 30, 2014, 21 persons suspected of belonging to the Boko Haram sect were reportedly killed and many others wounded during the exchange of gunfire that allegedly followed an attempted jailbreak at the Asokoro headquarters of the Directorate of State Security Service in Abuja on Sunday. This was confirmed by the Deputy Director, Public Relations, of the State Security Service, Ms. Marilyn Ogar.
The official account states that a detainee struck an operative, who had brought breakfast, with his handcuff.
The report did not say whether the handcuff had been locked around the detainee’s wrist or was open.  The official statement did not say the extent to which the actions of the detainee threatened the life or safety of the operative, and whether the detainee succeeded in dispossessing the operative of his weapon if he carried one. The statement said that shots were fired at the detainee, but did not say what other detainees did to deserve being killed. Some media reports quote Mrs. Marilyn Ogar as saying that “… the attempt by the detainee to escape made other SSS operatives on guard to fire shots to prevent others from escaping from the facility.”

A literal interpretation of this statement is that other detainees who posed no danger to the DSS or its operatives, or, who, in fact made no attempts to escape from detention were fired at to prevent them from even contemplating the possibility of fleeing! There is no clear justification provided by the DSS or the Nigerian State for the killing of such a multitude of vulnerable persons. Many questions arise: Where were the suspects when they were fired at? Outside of their enclosures or within? Within the precincts of the DSS facility or outside?How were they fired at? To incapacitate them from escaping or annihilate them?Then, who fired at them? The DSS or the soldiers who came to assist them? Were they fired at to avoid political embarrassment? There has been no clear, forthright, convincing and consistent statement from the DSS, SSS or government to justify such gruesome and large scale taking of human life. The Boko Haram sect members face considerable public prejudice given the horrifying atrocities attributed to them; yet, it is this negative perception that renders both their members and even those wrongly associated with them so vulnerable to be silenced or violated capriciously. The death of anyone associated with this sect must be subject to the highest scrutiny to avoid people getting away with clear homicides only by the sheer unpopularity of the victim’s ascribed label, particularly when it is remembered that military and security forces fighting terrorism in Nigeria have repeatedly acted with impunity and committed grave crimes against many innocent people, in a largely unchallenged way.
The Nigerian government is under a constitutional and international responsibility to thoroughly and impartially investigate the deaths of any persons who die in custody. No 34 of The United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection All Personsunder Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment provides that:

 

“Whenever the death or disappearance of a detained or imprisoned personoccurs during his detention or imprisonment, an inquiry into the cause of death or disappearance shall be held by a judicial or other authority, eitheron its own motion or at the instance of a member of the family of such aperson or any person who has knowledge of the case.  When circumstances sowarrant, such an inquiry shall be held on the same procedural basis wheneverthe death or disappearance occurs shortly after the termination of thedetention or imprisonment.  The findings of such inquiry or a report thereonshall be made available upon request...“

A2Justice calls on the Nigerian government to immediately constitute an impartial and  independent inquiry into the killings that took place at the SSS headquarters on the 30th of March 2014. This inquiry must be free from external influence or control, and undertaken by people of unquestionable integrity.A2Justice also urges that the results of the inquiry be made public and any persons found to have killed without clear, reasonable and lawful justification be brought to account and to justice.

Signed
Joseph Chu’maOtteh
Executive Director