Following the revelation that the Nigerian Army shot and killed 11 unarmed, peaceful protesters and wounded many others during the #EndSARS demonstration on the 20th of October, 2020, leading Civil Society Organisations promoting democracy, human rights and accountable governance, are calling on Lagos State Government and the Federal Government to publicly apologize to Nigerians for the government’s blatant attempt to cover up the massacre.
CODE and OXFAM urge the government to acknowledge the findings produced by the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Judicial Panel and immediately act on its recommendations. The report not only revealed gross injustices committed by the Nigerian Army and police against peaceful protesters but also efforts to conceal the truth from the general public.
“It is terribly sad and disappointing that the government tried valiantly to cover up the injustice that happened at Lekki Toll Gate that night. The army killed peaceful, unarmed and helpless civilians and the government tried to sweep it under the carpet—the very lives they swore to protect. An accountable government would apologise to its citizens and adopt the recommendations of the panel,” Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE) said.
The Country Director Oxfam International in Nigeria has also described the report as laudable calling on relevant agencies of government to expedite action in bringing to justice all those whose action or inaction led to the death of these innocent young Nigerians. “We must rise as a nation against injustice, our country has witnessed a fair share of inequality when it comes to serving justice, this report provides the current regime an opportunity to rewrite the wrong for the sake of posterity, equity and justice’’ Dr Vincent Ahonsi, Country Director Oxfam International in Nigeria.
Now that the Lagos State Government has insisted on releasing a white paper, CODE demands that it must be objective, unbiased and free of any influence by state interests.
The #EndSARS protests, which gripped the country at the time, focused on the legitimate demands of the Nigerian youth for an end to police brutality and other forms of human rights abuses. The CSOs believe that, if the recommendations of the report are duly implemented, it would enhance healing and trust in the system. It would also improve transitional justice in Nigeria.