PALU Condemns Excessive Use of Force by Security Agencies Against Peaceful Protesters

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The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) has expressed grave concerns, over the use of excessive force to dispel Protesters at the Lekki Tollgate last week.

A statement by the PALU President, Mr. Emeka Obegolu said: ‘We have been observing, with grave concern, the gradual descent into anarchy in parts of Nigeria, orchestrated by the excessive use of force to stop a peaceful civil protest under the guise of enforcement of curfew imposed by government, and the attendant acts of repression of civil protests by thugs allegedly at the instigation of government sympathisers.

‘PALU invites the Government of Nigeria to note the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which provides that in the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.

‘PALU notes that Nigeria is a State party to the 1966 international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 21, which governs the right of peaceful assembly providing that the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognised. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right, other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

‘PALU therefore calls on the Government of Nigeria to:
1. Guarantee the security of lives and properties of the citizens and residents of Nigeria, including their fundamental human rights as provided for under the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and Peoples rights.

2. Respect and protect the rights of her citizens to peacefully protest against perceived wrongful and oppressive acts of agencies of government and security agencies.

3. Commence immediate and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State by soldiers, with a view to bringing the identified culprits to book.

4. Investigate the intimidation and violent attacks on peaceful Protesters in different parts of the country, including Abuja, Lagos and Kano States by persons alleged to be sponsored thugs, with a view to unmasking the sponsors and bringing the perpetrators to book.

5. Commence a comprehensive census of all the victims of rights violations during the period while the protests lasted, and work with national civil society organisations led by the Nigerian Bar Association, to propose adequate compensation and immediate payment to the victims.’

‘The Pan African Lawyers Union commends the Protesters and their leadership for keeping the protest largely peaceful, and urges Nigerians to resist the temptation to engage in violent protests or confrontation with security agencies.

‘PALU will continue monitoring events as they unfold, and will lend our support to any initiative of the Nigerian Bar Association in response to the unfolding events’, he said.