Senators Condemn Lekki Tollgate Kilings

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Ike Ekweremadu
  • Want Buhari to bring perpetrators to book

By Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Chairman of the Senate committee on Women Affairs, Senator Betty Appiafi, have condemned in strong terms the Tuesday evening’s killing by soldiers of some EndSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos.

The two ranking Senators in separate reaction to the killings called on President Muhammadu Buhari to thoroughly investigate the killings with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

Ekweremadu, in a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, said any restrictions on the rights of Nigerians, including the right to peaceful assembly must follow the Constitution.

He called for justice for everyone, who had fallen victim of government’s actions or inactions in the face of the nationwide protests.

According to him, the rights to peaceful assembly remained guaranteed by the Constitution and any unilateral imposition of curfews was unconstitutional.

He, however, stressed the need to arrest and prosecute criminals, who had taken advantage of the protests to cause loss of lives and properties.

Ekweremadu said: “The events at the EndSARS protest at the Lekki Tollgate and use of maximum force on unarmed protesters last night is another low for our nation and her democracy and should be condemned by men and women of conscience across all political divides.

“Therefore, my heart goes out to the wounded and the families of the dead. Everyone involved in this irrational and horrendous act must be held accountable in order to preserve the sanctity of human lives, our democracy, and what is left of our dignity in the comity of civilised nations”.

In calling for restraint and constitutionalism in dealing with the protests, Ekweremadu said: “Times like this call for dialogue and restraint on the part of government and utmost patriotism and professionalism on the part of those charged with securing lives and property. Anything to the contrary may be tantamount to pouring petrol on a raging inferno.

“Unfortunately, government in dealing with the present situation, has taken even more dangerous steps by deploying soldiers as well as by imposing restrictions on the rights of Nigerians without following the provisions of Sections 45 and 305 of the 1999 Constitution. And doing so exposes both those who are deploying the soldiers and those engaging in human rights abuses under such extra-constitutional restrictions to trial by the International Criminal Court in future”.

On her part, Senator Appiafi wondered why a democratically elected government will use the military to kill Nigerian Citizens, “the same people who elected us into positions, the same people we swore to protect as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution?”

Appiafi who spoke with newsmen on Wednesday described as unconstitutional the gunning down and massacre of young, unarmed and defenseless peaceful EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on Tuesday by the military.

She, therefore, appealed to the federal government to probe the unfortunate incident.

Her words: “As the Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, and a mother, I join all mothers to say that we find the maiming and massacre of defenseless Nigerian Youths as an inhumane act on the part of the government under a supposed democratic dispensation.

“These youths were only demanding that government lives up to its responsibilities of protecting their lives from Police brutality, and for a better future for the Nation. Sadly, the government which negotiated with Terrorists dispatched Soldiers and massacred defenseless youths, even while holding the Nigerian flag and singing the National Anthem.

“I believe Tuesday 20th October, can be described as the darkest day in the year 2020 and a travesty of constitutionally guaranteed right to life, and the most profound surprise of all is the stoic silence of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.

“My heart bleeds, and I condemn this callous act in all ramifications. And I implore the President, Muhammadu Buhari to stop this heinous crime, investigate and ensure that the military officers responsible for the Lekki massacre are brought to book.”