In Nigeria, when the state kills you, it is ordinary Nigerian citizens that justify the killing. In what was a brazen show of extra-judicial killing, the Nigerian Army, in broad daylight, killed 45 protesters. The protesters, Shiite Muslims, protested against the continued incarceration of their leader Sheik Ibraheem El-ZakZaky. The protests took place in Abuja, the country’s capital. The protesters clashed with a convoy of soldiers and pelted them with stones. The soldiers, trained for the purpose of external aggression, turned that aggression on their countrymen and womenand shot live bullets at them.
The level of gross human rights violation is so high and worrying. The video of the shooting quickly went viral. The Nigerian Army, through its Twitter page supported the actions of its forces citing a video made by US President Donald Trump who said, “we’ll treat rocks like rifles.”
The Nigerian Army has been under scrutiny by Amnesty International for extra-judicial killings. The Spokesperson of the Army, John Agim said, “We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International. Our soldiers sustained injuries, the Shiites even burnt one of our vehicles, so what are Amnesty International saying?” Clips from the video however showed Nigerian soldiers shooting protesters as they fled.
Asides from the irony of using the statements of a foreign president to justify the killings of citizens, one questions the policies, and rules of engagement that the Nigerian Army has in place. The justification of the killings using a Trump video is just part of how world politics can shape local views. What is more worrying and shocking is when ordinary Nigerians take to social media to justify these killings of their fellow citizens.
For many protests that have rocked the country, the Nigerian Army has been invloved. The Nigerian Army has decimated the role of the police in keeping internal peace and currently has operations in over 30 of the 36 states that make up Nigeria. For a country that is not fighting a civil war, any state that has such a huge number of operations could definitely be on the brink of a security and human security crisis. The use of the Nigerian Army to quell protests in the country has become a form of continued oppression, which finds its footing in the many years of military rule the country faced.
A Twitter user Onye Nkuzi who tweets at @cchukudebelu aptly analysed the Nigerian force: “The Nigerian Army was never designed to be a “citizen’s army”. It was designed as a tool for oppression by the colonial masters. It still reflects its colonial heritage – still treats ordinary Nigerians the same way a colonial force like Belgium’s “Force Publique” would.”
Unlike many other countries where soldiers are strictly found in the barracks, the case is different in Nigeria. The trouble with Nigeria, Chinua Achebe said, is simply a failure of leadership. But asides leadership, the trouble with Nigeria could actually be Nigerian citizens themselves.
The Nigerian military reportedly killed at least 45 protesters — and used Trump's words to justify it pic.twitter.com/BPf4wH5jFU
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 2, 2018