By Udora Orizu
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the perpetrators who attacked and killed peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos last Tuesday night and ensure they are brought to book.
The coalition in joint statement issued yesterday, while condemning the attack on peaceful protesters, said they stand with Nigerians in affirming their constitutional right to protest.
The CSOs included Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Enough is Enough (EIE); Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Centre for Information, Technology and Development (CITAD); Yiaga Africa; Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC); HEDA Resource Centre; BUDGiT, among others.
The CSOs appealed to all friends of Nigeria to sustain pressure on the government of President Buhari to rein in on members of the armed forces carrying out these killings of unarmed protesters.
They also called on the National Assembly to hold an emergency session to address the killing of protesters and hold a national public hearing to investigate the abuse of power and killing of peaceful protesters by security agencies and the failure to arrest thugs and hoodlums who attacked the #EndSARS protesters and innocent citizens across different states in the country.
The coalition further called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open investigation on the ongoing crimes against humanity being committed against the peaceful and unarmed #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria.
According to the statement, “We, the undersigned coalition of civil society organisations are deeply shocked by the killings of peaceful protesters across Nigeria yesterday. The attempt to fight for justice over police brutality has again revealed the brutal nature of the Nigerian state. At the last count, not less than 40 Nigerians have lost their lives as a result of violent attempts to crack down or disrupt the ongoing protests against police brutality.
‘’There is also documentary evidence, which indicts a combined force of sponsored thugs and members of the Nigerian security forces for the deaths of innocent protesters. Particularly disturbing is the massacre of unarmed and very peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos yesterday. The sight of the Nigerian flag stained with the blood of the youths in the month the country celebrated its 60 years of independence, is a gory sight to behold.
‘’These killings are totally unacceptable, just as they stand condemned. It is pertinent to recall that this coalition previously warned the Nigerian authorities about the danger of deploying the military to confront unarmed protesters.
“We, therefore, strongly condemn the needless loss of the lives of young Nigerians as a result of the blatant refusal to heed warnings that the government should not call in the military to quell a protest by citizens demanding police reforms and good governance. This coalition further condemns the lack of restraint, and the level of impunity displayed by the army officers who obeyed this unlawful order to unleash maximum force on protesters.”
It added: “Finally, the events of October 20, 2020, are a reminder that our democracy is fragile, and we the people must defy the odds and fight for a democracy generations to come will be proud of. We stand with Nigerian youths who defied the odds to make their voices heard. We mourn with Nigerians who have lost loved ones since the #EndSARS movement. We urge the youth to remain peaceful, as the struggle has just begun, and the people of this country must brace up to take their destinies into their hands.””