The Nigerian army deleted a tweet that seemed to use the words of President Donald Trump to justify the use of deadly forces against a group of demonstrators last week.
The army, who fell under fire for alleged human rights violations, tweeted a Trump video, indicating that immigrants could be shot if they were flying rocks in the US Army. with the phrase "Please watch and make your rebates".
The video is a clip from a speech given by Trump to the White House on Thursday, in which he announced that his government is preparing to change the country's asylum practices in the light of a migratory caravan that leaves danger in Central America and is headed toward the United States.
"They want to throw rocks in our army, our military struggles," the president told reporters. "I told them to think of it as a rifle. When they throw stones like what they did to the Mexican army and the police, I say that I think it's a rifle."
Trump later postponed his remarks, saying that migrants throwing stones at US border army members would be arrested. He said he hoped "they would not have to shoot" and questioned how his previous remarks were perceived by the public.
"I did not say shoot," Trump said. "I did not say shoot, but if they do that with us, they will be arrested for a long time."
Nigerian military tweaking seemed to refer to demonstrator violence that occurred at the weekend. An Amnesty International report found that Nigerian soldiers and police killed at least 45 supporters and injured 122 others from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria for two days. The group held a peaceful religious procession in the capital, Abuja.
Demonstrators demanded the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El Zazakki, whose detention was described as "illegal and unconstitutional" by a federal court in December 2016, according to Amnesty International.
Nigerian Army spokesman John Agim told the New York Times that the military published the video as opposed to the report accusing the army of using weapons against protesters.
"We released this video to say if President Trump can say the rocks are as good as a rifle, what is Amnesty International?" he told the newspaper. "What do you say then, what did David use to kill Goliath?" So a stone is a weapon.
Both tweet and Trump's original remarks have been widely condemned by human rights defenders. Former United Nations ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described it as "ill".
The United States Embassy in Abuja has also called on the Nigerian government to conduct an investigation into the deaths during the protests and to prosecute those responsible.
Since taking office, Trump has begun to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Nigeria by providing training and security equipment to the country's military and authorizing the sale of twelve A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, which former President Barack Obama froze because of the human rights records of the Nigerian army, according to Human Rights Watch.
"This episode makes it quite clear that Trump's rhetoric is working in a very specific way," the organization said in a statement. "His recent inflammatory statements, made a few days before the US mid-term elections, have clearly been seized by some of the Nigerian soldiers as an abusive new pattern they would like to join."
Contribution: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
Follow Nance Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
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