The under-signed Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have expressed disappointment that the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, failed to acknowledge the attacks and killings of unarmed peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate, Lagos, during his National Speech two days ago.
The President showed neither empathy or remorse, after alleged members of the Nigerian Army were reported to have opened fire on unassuming citizens during the protest. Not only is this worrisome but a mockery of democratic practices.
Over the last two weeks, scores have died as thousands of protesters hit the streets all across Nigeria to demand an end to the assaults and unjust killings of the youths by the rogue Police Unit-Special Anti-Robbery Squad— but peaceful demonstrations against police brutality were cracked down on with aggressive response and shootings unleashed by the same security officials accused of heavy-handedness.
Peaceful protests across cities in Nigeria have been met with more assaults by security operatives. More horrifying is the brazen killing of dozens of innocent unarmed youths by alleged staff of the Nigerian Army. The CSO coalition strongly condemns these undemocratic, heinous and barbaric acts against humanity. It is quite unfortunate that the President has not displayed the political will and courage to remedy these problems.
The #EndSARS social movement is demanding justice for the victims of police brutality, rape, torture and extrajudicial killings by SARS-people are fighting for the right to lives, yet peaceful protests were disrupted by police violence, mass arrests, targeted shooting and the criminalisation of the protests itself. We demand that perpetrators of the police/SARS brutality and extrajudicial killings face the wrath of the law and are held accountable, especially leading up to those peaceful protesters who were either shot or killed during this recent protest.
This coalition calls on the International Criminal court (ICC) to promptly investigate and prosecute public officials (political, military and police leadership) found to have sponsored the violence against the peaceful #EndSARS Protesters which fall within the “Crimes Against Humanity” pursuant to the Rome Statute.
Without further delay, President Buhari must call for an inquiry and order the attorney general to sack/ prosecute those officers who are responsible for the killings or set up/institute a committee to investigate. The National Assembly must also order the investigation of these atrocious killings perpetrated by state actors against her citizens in lieu of the #EndSARS Protest.
Security is one of the prevalent challenges confronting the nation’s growth despite having more than 370,000 police officers in Nigeria and a police-to-citizen ratio of 1 to 400, which more than meets the United Nation’s recommended figure, the nation’s security challenges continue to worsen. Although President Buhari’s assented to a new Police Bill in September 2020, replacing the Police Act of 1943, this indicates how the Nigerian citizenry have been poorly-served. Still, the Bill contained no details of the timeline for reforming units such as SARS.
The embodiment of the Security force must rethink the lame strategy of overburdening security agencies and vigilante groups and invest in adequate training and capacity building. This will reduce overhead and operational costs, efficiently improve the security expenditure and expose the inherent corruption in the system. The apparent lack of transparency and opaque budget and procurement practices in the management and utilization of security funds in Nigeria has contributed to its operational shortcomings and frequent misconduct.
We are aggrieved by all that has happened recently in Nigeria and stand in solidarity with our fellow Nigerians. We commend the resilience of citizens who took to the streets to protest and decry alarming police brutality, assaults and wanton killing SARS. At this time, as the nation heals, we urge citizens to please be calm, observe the curfew imposed by the government and be safe. We will continue to demand justice and will not rest until perpetrators face the wrath of the law.
Connected Development (CODE)
The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact (Dataphyte)
Accountability Lab Nigeria
SPACES FOR CHANGE