International news agency, REUTERS, on Sunday reported that it was in possession of an amateur video showing Nigerian soldiers shooting unarmed captives in broad daylight in Maiduguri, Borno State.
It said the video was sent to it by a soldier, who claimed to have witnessed the shooting. Reuters quoted the unnamed soldiers as saying that he was present when the soldiers shot the captives about two weeks ago.
Maiduguri is the seat of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and there have been many clashes between military operatives and the sect members.
The report said, “In the grainy footage, a man sits down next to three or four corpses piled together on the roadside. He pleads for his life while soldiers shout at him and a crowd looks on a few metres away. “Please don’t fire,” the man says in Pidgin English.
“He tries to stand up and get onto the back of a pickup truck to the left. A Nigerian soldier shouts “come out”, and drags him off it, shoving him on the ground.
“One of them kicks him in the head. Then he and another soldier aim assault rifles at him. Four gunshots are heard and the man lies still next to the others.”
According to Reuters, another video from the same source, which he said was taken after the executions, shows soldiers piling up about 24 bodies in two heaps on the ground from the back of a military truck.
Nigerian army spokesman, Colonel Mohammed Yerima, told Reuters that he had not seen the video but that the events must have been staged.
“How can they do that? It is not possible. This is the Boko Haram tactics. They will do the killing, say it’s the military and then Amnesty International and so on will blame us. It’s not possible for Nigerian troops to act in this way,” Yerima was quoted as saying.
There have been several allegations of improper conduct against the Nigerian soldiers in the Joint Task Force in charge of maintaining peace in the North-East where Boko Haram members have staged many attacks.
But the military has always denied complicity in the crisis in the zone.
The Guardian of London on November 2, 2012 reported a similar case of soldiers shooting dead many during raids in Maiduguri, quoting witnesses and hospital staff.
According to the reports, three witnesses said soldiers from the JTF raided several neighbourhoods in Maiduguri late on November 1 and arrested or shot dead dozens of young men.
“More than 30 bodies were brought in by the JTF and most of them were young men,” The Guradian quoted one nurse at a hospital in the town, Yagana Bukar, as saying.
Amnesty International said in a report released on Nov. 1 that the JTF had committed human rights abuses in its fight against Boko Haram.
The report said the JTF had carried out executions in the streets and tortured people without charges ever being brought.