By Angela Atabo
Abuja, Oct. 25, 2020 Civil Society Orgainsations (CSO) have called on the National Assembly and the Federal Government to investigate the Lekki Toll Plaza killings of #EndSARS protesters as a way of dousing youths’ anger across the country.
Mr Hamzat Lawal, Executive Director, Connected Development (CODE), said that thousands of Nigerian Youths recently took to the streets to decry and protest the brutality, assaults and unjust killings by the police.
Lawal, however, said that the peaceful demonstrations against police brutality were cracked down with aggressive response and shootings unleashed by security officials.
“We are aggrieved by all that has happened recently; Our call for accountability and transparency in public services is to ensure that the government is responsive to its duties of ensuring the wellbeing of its citizens and protecting lives and property.
“At CODE, our mission firmly aligns with the Sustainable Development Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Stronger Institutions.
“ We are also petitioning the government to deliver on the #5for5 demands that were birthed following the ‘half-hearted’ response of the government to end the rogue police unit for the 4th time.
“In collaboration with other civil society organisations, we are petitioning the National Assembly (NASS) to order the inquiry and investigation of these atrocious killings perpetrated by state actors against citizens in lieu of the #EndSARS Protest.’’
Mr Monday Osasah, Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), said that the centre condemned the killing of unarmed protesters.
He said that the centre would urge governors to hold town hall meetings to prevent recurence.
Osasah called on the Military to ensure transparency in its investigation and bring those found culpable to justice.
“I encourage Governors to not only occupy themselves with setting up of judicial commissions of enquiry but extend their intervention to include engagement of the youth through town hall meetings.
“This should be as a way of demonstrating government’s resolve and determination to ending this quagmire in the country,’’ he said
Osasah commiserated with families of unarmed protesters who lost their lives in the shooting and urged all youths to be law abiding in their protest which is their right.
Meanwhile, a coalition of CSOs in a statement expressed disappointment that the federal government failed to acknowledge the attacks and killings of unarmed peaceful protesters at Lekki.
They are: Connected Development (CODE); TechHerNG; The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact (Dataphyte); Accountability Lab Nigeria; and Spaces for Change.
““ Not only is this worrisome but a mockery of democratic practices.
“Over the last two weeks, scores have died as thousands of protesters hit the streets all across Nigeria to demand an end to the assaults and unjust killings of youths by SARS.
The CSO coalition strongly condemned these undemocratic, heinous and barbaric acts against humanity especially the military killings.
The group demanded that perpetrators of the police/SARS brutality and extrajudicial killings face the wrath of the law and be held accountable, especially leading up to those peaceful protesters who were either shot or killed during this recent protest.
This coalition called on the International Criminal court (ICC) to promptly investigate and prosecute public officials found to have sponsored the violence against the peaceful #EndSARS protesters which fall within the “Crimes Against Humanity” pursuant to the Rome Statute.
They said the political leaders should without further delay call for an inquiry and order the attorney general to sack and prosecute those officers who were responsible for the killings or set up a committee to investigate.
They also said that the National Assembly should order the investigation of the atrocious killings perpetrated by state actors against the citizens in lieu of the #EndSARS Protest.
They advised that security force should rethink the lame strategy of overburdening security agencies and vigilance groups and invest in adequate training and capacity building.
This, they said, would reduce overhead and operational costs, improve efficiently in the security expenditure and expose the inherent corruption in the system.
“The apparent lack of transparency and opaque budget and procurement practices in the management and utilisation of security funds in Nigeria has contributed to its operational shortcomings and frequent misconduct.
“We commend the resilience of citizens who took to the streets to protest and decry alarming police brutality, assaults and wanton killings by SARS.
“At this time, as the nation heals, we urge citizens to please be calm, observe the curfew imposed by the government and be safe.
“We will continue to demand justice and will not rest until perpetrators face the wrath of the law,’’ they said