World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission (NHR) is launching an investigation into Friday’s attack in the federal capital Abuja amid increasing claims by survivors of being attacked by unprovoked soldiers, in contradiction to the official version of the security agencies.
Nigeria’s blogosphere is awash with claims by the survivors and residents that the attack – in which seven people have been confirmed dead and several injured – was "unprovoked" and was carried out by soldiers on "defenseless" citizens inhabiting the uncompleted buildings at the Apo Legislative Quarters, a posh area considered the official residence of most of Nigeria’s federal lawmakers.
Dahiru Bobbo, an assistant director at the commission, is leading NHRC officials to interview witnesses and residents of the area as citizens, overwhelmed by the ordeals of the survivors, are now asking the security agencies to come clean about what "truly transpired" at the scene of the attack.
Tony Ojukwu, another senior official at the commission, confirmed the probe in a telephone interview with Anadolu Agency on Saturday afternoon.
Residents interviewed by AA claimed that the Nigeria’s secret police and the Nigerian Army schemed to cover-up their "atrocity after their personnel extra-judicially killed innocent men and wounded several others."
They claimed none of the victims was a Boko Haram militant but mere "victims of recklessness of the security officials."
The residents also claimed that the uncompleted buildings where the attack took place were inhabited by homeless artisans and petty traders who could not afford the cut-throat cost of housing in the capital.
The injured, most of them shot on their backs (an indication that they were running away), have since been admitted to the Asokoro General Hospital where they are being treated for gunshot wounds.
Ibrahim Danladi, a 20-year-old survivor at the hospital, told AA in a telephone interview facilitated by one of the residents that he sells sachet water.
He denied that anyone engaged the security agents in a shootout.
Danladi, like other survivors, are in stable conditions.
"The tale about us being Boko Haram members is a fabrication to cover up the atrocity," he told AA in the local Hausa dialect.
"I sell pure water and none of us are Boko Haram. The soldiers just arrived suddenly and started shooting at us."
The secret police spokesperson Marilyn Ogar had on Friday issued a statement saying that agents acted based on tip-offs from two Boko Haram suspects, Kamal Abdullahi and Mohammed Adamu, that a cache of ammunition was buried in the uncompleted building.
"They led the security team to the uncompleted building where arms were purported to have been buried underground," he said in the statement.
"No sooner had the team commenced digging for the arms than they came under heavy gunfire attack by other Boko Haram elements within the area."
Witnesses and residents now dispute the official accounts, asking security officials to show ammunition recovered and reveal the number of casualties the agents suffered since the secret police claimed that they only returned fire after they were attacked by Boko Haram operatives.
The residents insisted the victims were squatters who usually gather in scores to sleep on mats in the uncompleted buildings on the street after returning from their daily jobs.
"The keke-napep (tricycle) men that stay in the house (where the shooting occurred) are almost 100," said a middle-aged man who sought anonymity for fear of official retribution.
He lives on the street next to the scene of the attack.
The Nigerian army has denied involvement in the attack, and dismissed claims that the incident may have been masterminded by a senior military official who owns one of the attacked buildings.
Residents claimed the unnamed official had given the "squatters" a week ultimatum to quit the residence before the deadly attack.
"The operation is an SSS-led operation. It has nothing to do with a military owner or whatever anyone is saying," insisted army spokesman Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru.
Attahiru said further questions on the attack should be directed to the secret police which he insisted led the "joint operation."
Asked to give further insight into the incident, Ms Ogar told AA that the service stands by its explanation given in the statement on Friday.Last Mod: 21 Eylül 2013, 21:07