According to community leaders in Dogo Tebo area of Potiskum in Yobe state, the victims were found dead at the Potiskum General Hospital in Yobe just hours after they were arrested by the soldiers.
It was gathered that when the corpses of the 16 men were looked at in the hospital morgue, bullet wounds were seen on their bodies. Hence, community leaders on Thursday demanded an inquiry into the matter.
Investigation carried out by AFP revealed that the troops rounded up 17 people, including an imam, from the Dogo Tebo area of Potiskum as they left a mosque after morning prayers on Wednesday.
Residents and hospital staff said the bodies of all but the imam were later found in the morgue at the Potiskum General Hospital.
“All the bodies have gunshot wounds on them,” said a nurse, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The bodies had been brought in by soldiers and were formally identified by community leaders and residents from Dogo Tegbo,the nurse said.
One resident, Tukur Danu, said the cleric was not among the dead and added: “We are worried about what they could do to him.”
Community leaders are now claiming that the 16 men were picked up and killed because all of them were from the Kanuri ethnic group that forms the bulk of Boko Haram’s membership.
“We demand a probe into this unjustifiable murder,” said one community leader in Dogo Tebo, who asked not to be identified for his personal safety.
“We believe they were killed on suspicion of being Boko Haram because they were Kanuris.”
Another leader informed that all the victims were related either by blood or marriage
“The government should look into this cold-blooded murder and ensure justice is done because being a soldier is not a licence to kill at will on mere suspicion,” he added.
“Our fear is we don’t know what they will do next,” he said, adding that three more people were arrested late on Wednesday in the same area.
Potiskum is the commercial hub of Yobe state, which with neighbouring Borno and Adamawa state has been under emergency rule since May last year because of the Boko Haram insurgency.
It would be recalled that no fewer than 30 people were reportedly killed and some 89 others were injured on Monday in a suicide bombing targeting a major Shia Muslim festival in Potiskum.
The head of the Shia community in the city, Mustapha Lawan Nasidi, said at the time that several other people died when troops who deployed to the scene opened fire.
Human rights groups in Nigeria and abroad have previously accused Nigeria’s military of carrying out extra-judicial killings in the five-year fight against Boko Haram.