Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations

#EndSARS: UN, ECOWAS, US, Others condemn shooting of protesters in Nigeria, call for investigations

*US Congressional Black Caucus tells President Buhari that respect for human rights must be prioritised

*The pain of these terrible events is palpable…, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them, says Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Scores of international organisations, countries, and friends of Nigeria have continued to condemn the recent unprovoked deadly attacks on innocent #EndSARS protesters across the oil-rich country.

ConsumerConnect reports soldiers’ recent shooting at over 1,000 Nigerian protesters night Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Gate, in Lagos State, drew widespread international criticisms.

It was learnt Michelle Bachelet, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights suggested the unprovoked attacks on the protesters could have been premeditated.

Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), in a communiqué by Stephanie Dujarric, his Spokesperson, called for an end to Police brutality and harassment in Nigeria.

A collage of different scenes at the Lekki Toll Gate, in Lagos, after the soldiers’ shooting at protesters 

Not less than 35 people reportedly killed since the nationwide protests against Police brutality, intimidation and abuse of human rights erupted Monday, October 5, 2020, in the country.

Reports indicate that the protesters have continued to express their grievances across the major cities in a peaceful manner until hoodlums purportedly infiltrated their ranks, and the demonstrations turned violent recently.

The UN Secretary-General, however, condemned the violent clashes that claimed multiple lives and caused many injuries to the young protesters.

The Secretary-General has been following recent developments in Nigeria, and has called for an end to police brutality and abuses, said the statement.

Guterres condemned the shooting of protesters on Tuesday at Lekki in Lagos which resulted in multiple deaths and caused many injuries.

He expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Secretary-General called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate the incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable.

He, however, urged the country’s security forces to act at all times with maximum restraint while calling on protestors to demonstrate peacefully and to refrain from violence.

Guterres also reiterated the readiness of the UN to support national efforts at finding a solution.

In the same vein, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged the Nigerian Government to conduct a speedy investigation in the shooting that occurred in the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos.

The regional organisation in a statement Wednesday, October 21 expressed its condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives during the protests.

ECOWAS emphasised while it recognises the right of citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and protests, it wishes that those rights be exercised in a non-violent manner.

The statement said: “In this regard, ECOWAS Commission calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations.

“It also urges the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally.

“ECOWAS Commission further notes that, in an effort to address the demands of the protesting youth, the Federal Government of Nigeria took important decisions regarding disbandment of SARS, comprehensive police reforms and investigation of cases of police brutality. It encourages the Nigerian Authorities to conduct the investigation rapidly.”

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Wednesday in a statement also disclosed that he was “deeply concerned” by the recent violence in Nigeria and reports of civilian deaths, and called for “an end to the violence”.

Raab said: “The Nigerian government must urgently investigate reports of brutality at the hands of the security forces and hold those responsible to account.”

Likewise, the US Congressional Black Caucus has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to meet the demands of the youths protesting against Police brutality and extra-judicial killings.

The group, in a letter dated October 21, 2020, and addressed to Buhari, insisted that respect for human rights must be prioritised.

Karen Bass, Congress Chair, copied Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor, Nigerian Ambassador to the United States.

The letter stated in part: “We are particularly concerned with the documented force used by the Nigerian police and military, which resulted in the loss of lives and injured dozens of protesters like the recent events at the Lekki Tollgate on 20 October, 2020.

“We do not claim to have the answers; however, as nations work to meet the demands of their citizens, respect for human rights must be at the centre of all responses especially the operation of security forces including the police.

US Congressional Black Caucus said, “as you know, we firmly believe that individual lives and dignity matter as countries cope with the current challenges they face. “Certainly, the actions of the protestors matter but the burden will always be on governments to protect their citizens”.

The letter further stated that “Nigerian citizens have made it clear that they are seeking real sustainable change, they are requesting more than renaming SARS to SWAT.  “Further simply redeploying the former members of SARS will increase mistrust in the units they joined.”

The body, therefore, urged the President to release all protesters arrested for taking part in the #EndSARS protests over the last few weeks.

It also admonished the government to uphold the rights to non-violent protests and ensure the safety of protesters in accordance with the International Bill of Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

It further urged Buhari to allow an independent investigation of the actions that led to the killings at the Lekki Tollgate; provide Justice for the families of the victims of the recent protests against police brutality; and initiate comprehensive overall reform of the security sector in the country.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has stated that the Nigerian Government will get justice for all victims of Tuesday night’s killings of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki, in Lagos.

But Osinbajo a series of tweets via his Twitter handle Wednesday said that the losses recorded during the hijack of the nationwide protests were “irreplaceable”.

The Vice-President sympathised with other victims, including ordinary citizens and policemen who got attacked during the protests in the Lagos and other states of the Federation.

He also tweeted: “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 & all other affected states in these trying times.”

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