Campaigners with Human Rights Watch in both Africa and the United States expressed concern late Friday over the Nigerian army’s use of President Donald Trump’s remarks, specifically about responding with lethal force to any migrants throwing rocks at U.S. troops staged on its southern border.
Trump’s remarks Thursday, which he later walked back, included his view that rocks would be treated as rifles and – although illegal under military law – suggested unarmed migrants might be met with firepower.
The Nigerian army subsequently sent out a Twitter message with the Trump video clip, telling its audience to “draw deductions” over its own actions following clashes with the Shia Islamic Movement (IMN) and its protesters. Their response drew international attention and a sharp rebuke from HRW for both countries.
“This episode makes it crystal clear that Trump’s rhetoric matters in a very concrete way. His recent inflammatory statements, made days before the U.S. midterm elections, have clearly been seized upon by some in the Nigerian military as an abusive new standard to which they would like to adhere,” wrote Mausi Segun, the Abuja-based HRW Africa director, and Sarah Margon, her U.S.-based counterpart.
The provocative Nigerian message came just days after Nigerian army soldiers opened fire on protesting members of IMN, some of whom were throwing stones, killing 42 people, according to group leaders.
HRW says the Nigerian army tweet, which was quickly deleted, was “an undisguised attempt to use the rhetoric as justification for soldiers’ widely-condemned use of lethal force.” They also note the U.S. arms sales to support Nigeria’s military in recent years.
To view HRW’s complete remarks, see the link here.
Image: U.S. Presidency