The Nigerian Army has used President Donald Trump’s own words about the use of force against migrants throwing stones to justify shooting at Shia Muslim protesters.
The army posted a now-deleted tweet featuring a video of Mr Trump encouraging armed troops to shoot at any Central American refugees and migrants who throw rocks at authorities when crossing the US border. “Please watch and make your deductions,” the tweet read.
Nigeria’s military and police forces are accused of killing dozens of Muslim protesters and arresting hundreds of others, the BBC reports. Facing global pressure over the fatal shootings, the Nigerian Army, the largest component of the Nigerian Armed Forces, tweeted the Trump video on Friday, but later deleted the post.
Mr. Trump made the remarks at the White House Thursday, saying of the migrants, “They want to throw rocks at our military our military fights back. We’re going to consider it, and I told them, consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police I say consider it a rifle.”
The Nigerian director of defense, Brigade General John Agim, told the BBC the tweet was in reaction to Amnesty International’s damning investigation, released on Oct. 31, that found “excessive force” by soldiers and police led to the killing of at least 45 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) over two days.
Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called it “sickening.”
Sickening. Under scrutiny from human rights orgs for firing on a crowd of protesters, the Nigerian Army tweets Trump from yesterday telling US troops that any migrants throwing rocks should be handled as if they are armed with “a rifle” 1/2 pic.twitter.com/2udS9fgAhm
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) November 2, 2018
The Nigerian military’s official Twitter account refuted the report, claiming it acted in “self-defense” and was only responsible for six deaths and seven injuries.
The United States Embassy in Nigeria expressed concern over deaths resulting from the clashes between the Nigerian security forces and IMN, issuing a statement urging Nigeria’s government authorities to “conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law.”
Members of IMN have been demanding the release of their leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky, who has been in custody for 34 months, the BBC reports. Nigerian police arrested 400 members of the Shia Muslim sect after days of deadly protests in the capital of Abuja that began on Saturday.
In Thursday’s speech, Mr. Trump said any rocks thrown at the military would be treated like “a firearm.”
“Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico — we will consider that a firearm,” he said.
When a reporter asked him about this, the president said the U.S. military should “consider it a rifle.”
Asked about the president’s remarks, a Pentagon spokesperson said, “We will not discuss hypothetical situations or specific measures within our rules on the use of force, but our forces Are trained professionals who always have the inherent right of defense.”