#EndSARS Report: SERAP, 116 Nigerians Sue Buhari, Seek Arrest of Suspects

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Udora Orizu

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 116 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja to direct and compel President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to ensure the arrest of soldiers and police officers indicted by the Lagos State #EndSARS panel report for the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll-gate, and police brutality cases.

The suit followed the submission of the state #EndSARS panel report to the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The leaked report is said to have indicted some soldiers and police officers for the shooting of protesters, leading to grievous injuries and deaths.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP is also asking the court to direct and compel Buhari to bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, including adequate compensation.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, the organisation argued that it is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for Nigerians’ rights, the rule of law, and public confidence in government institutions, as well as reduce the growing culture of impunity in the country.

The suit read in part: “The flagrant lack of accountability for past violations of the rights of protesters has given rise to a growing sense of powerlessness, and resentment not only among victims and their families, but among the public. The failure to promptly arrest, and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families amounts to a travesty of justice, as justice delayed is justice denied.

“The Buhari administration has the constitutional responsibility to allow victims of human rights violations to find out the truth in regard to acts committed; to know who the perpetrators of such acts are, and to obtain justice and adequate compensation. President Buhari has a constitutional duty, being the Chief Executive Officer of the federation and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, and that there is no impunity for allegations of human rights violations.

“The United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary, and Summary Executions affirm that ‘extra-legal, arbitrary, and summary executions’ cannot be carried out under any circumstances. According to the principles, ‘governments shall prohibit orders from superior officers or public authorities authorising or inciting other persons to carry out any such extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions. All persons shall have the right and the duty to defy such orders’. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.”