Amnesty’s report, which it says was based on details from eyewitnesses, morgues and hospitals, says soldiers opened fire on members of IPOB and their supporters in Onitsha, Anambra State during the build up to a march.
The human rights group added that the killings took place during a security operation in the early hours of the morning, shortly before the march when the military raided homes and a church where IPOB members slept.
The Nigerian Army, however, dismissed the allegations as unfounded. The Army says that Amnesty’s accusations reveal a bias that undermined its credibility.
The Army issued a statement in which it said troops had to “resort to self defense” after IPOB members attacked security agencies with “firearms” and various weapons including dynamite.
It said five members of IPOB were killed, eight wounded while nine were arrested.
“These efforts were in order to de-escalate the palpable tension as well as ward off the apparent threats to lives and property in the general area,” it said.
However, Amnesty said its investigation showed at least 17 people were killed and nearly 50 injured, adding that “the real number is likely to be higher”.
Urging government to investigate, the right group said, “Information gathered by Amnesty International indicates that the deaths of supporters and members of IPOB was the consequence of excessive, and unnecessary use of force.”
The contents of the report were rejected by army spokesman Sani Usman. “The allegations are unfounded,” he said.