Osinbajo Promises Justice for Lekki Tollgate Victims

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Yemi Osinbajo

•Federal legislators call for prosecution of killer-soldiers

By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) yesterday expressed his condolences for the victims of last Tuesday’s military clampdown on protesting youths at the Lekki Tollgate, promising to ensure that the perpetrators of the killings would be brought to justice.

“My heart goes out to all the victims of the Lekki shootings, and also the policemen and all other men and women who lost their lives in the past few days in different parts of Lagos and other states,” he said in a series of Tweets.

He stated: “I spoke to some of those in hospital. The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our towns and cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them.

“I stand with Lagos and all other affected states in these trying times.

“We pray we will never see a repeat of these tragedies in Jesus name. God bless you all.”

In the same vein, thirty-five members of the National Assembly have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency identify all the soldiers who attacked the peaceful demonstrators and prosecute them for murder.

The lawmakers made up of four senators and 31 members of the House of Representatives in a joint statement issued on Wednesday demanded that the perpetrators of this dastardly act and all those who gave the orders should be brought to account in a transparent and accountable manner.

The senators are Olu Adetunmbi, Opeyemi Bamidele, Tolu Odebiyi and Surajudeen Basiru.

The House signatories include Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, Hon. Francis Waive, Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Umeoji Chukwuma, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, Hon. Abubakar Hassan Nalaraba, Hon Francis Ottah Agbo, Hon. Unyime Idem, Hon. Omowumi Olubunmi Ogunlola, Hon. Ibrahim Kunle Olarewaju, Hon. Segius Ogun, Hon. Preye Oseke, Hon. Ibrahim Obanikoro.

Others are Hon. Bamidele Salam, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji,
Hon. Benjamin Mzondu, Hon. Timehin Adelegbe, Hon. Taiwo Oluga, Hon. Ben Kalu, Hon. Amos Magaji, Hon Olododo Cook Abdulganiyu Saka, Hon. Igariwey Iduma Enwo, Hon. Olubukola Oyewo, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe Oluyole, Hon Uzoma Nkem Abonta, Hon. Satomi Alhaji Ahmed, Hon. Wole Oke, Hon. Miriam Onuoha and Hon. Ifeanyi Chudy Momah.

The lawmakers who condemned this action by government and security agencies, said it is inexcusable, totally unacceptable, adding that there is no justification whatsoever for security officials who are paid with taxpayers’ money to kill unarmed protesters.

The statement read in part; ”We the undersigned are legislators committed to set agenda for progressive laws in Nigeria; initiating progressive laws and speaking against anti-people bills in the National Assembly. We have followed carefully the #ENDSARS protest by young people across Nigeria for the past two weeks and the killings in several cities including Jos, Kaduna, Abuja, Benin and Lagos.”

”We note that in the recent past, this has been the most elaborate protest that has united young Nigerians across geography, ethnic nationality and religion. We observe that the protest goes beyond the excesses of the police formation called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The protests are as a result of frustration by Nigerian youths who have seen governments at all level fail to provide public goods and opportunities for them to lead a meaningful life.

”We recognise that over the years, socio-economic indicators in Nigeria have remained precarious. The Fragile state’s index has consistently classified Nigeria among the 15 worst states that are failing across the world. We are appalled by the reliance on force, intimidation and manipulation by government and security agencies in an attempt to break the protest rather than utilising globally recognised methods of policing in a democratic society.

”We are enraged by reports of shooting of unarmed, defenceless protesters by military officers at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos after the lights were turned off and CCTV cameras put off. We call on the President to give an immediate order to all security agencies to stop shooting at protesters. We call on the President to address the nation and take concrete actions to respond to the demand of the protesters.

He should commit in words and action to respect and protect the right to protest. He should publicly invite the leaders of the protesters to an urgent dialogue while assuring them of their safety and that outcomes would be expeditiously implemented.

”We also condemn the attack and burning of properties of innocent citizens and government. We call on the government to respond expeditiously to the demand of the protesters and other lingering issues of addressing the security architecture of the country and addressing revelations of corruption in many government agencies. As patriots, we will not keep quiet while the country is plunged into crisis under any guise. A stitch in time saves nine.”