PRESS RELEASE ON THE PROTEST ON ENDSARS, KILLING OF PROTESTERS IN NIGERIA
Protests are a people way of expressing their dissatisfaction with a government or an authority’s actions or way of leadership. It is done to correct or better put change a situation for the benefit of those affected. In many countries of the world, citizens have always protested against the government policies and projects that has not always gone in line with their expectations. This is actually a constitutional right of citizens, guaranteed under section 39 (1) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution to protest and change the direction of policies in their favour.
In Nigeria, we have had various protests in the past, with one of the popular being the Aba Women Riot in 1929, which today, is been recognized by the United Nations because of the outcome it achieved. A critical review of protests reveals that whenever there is a protest, there has been a long period of endurance of a particular situation that could not be tolerated any further. Also, we have also identified that the degree of protest is usually dependent on the degree of ignorance on the part of the authority and their unwillingness to respond to the needed change early enough.
The recent protest in Nigeria with the EndSARS mantra, came to the point of the people protesting because the government and the leadership of the NPF did not heed the outcry of Nigerians and the Civil Societies, who have made calls in prints media and Television and Radio broadcasts, cautioning the government and the leadership of the Police to take early actions against this same unit. NOPRIN on its part have written countless number of petitions involving acts of torture, unlawful killings, detentions and even extortions perpetrated by SARS, Police Officers to the NPF, NHRC. We have never really gotten any active response to our outcry until now. This goes to show the recalcitrant attitude of our leaders and how less they care about the security situation in the country. It appears that as long as they are not affected directly, they give deaf ears to cries from the people who have elected them into office. If early action was taken, this would certainly not have escalated to this point and the many other lives lost, would have been saved.
Although the unit has been disbanded but it took an unreasonably longer period of time for the leadership of the country and the police force to do the needful, even after several reports by International human rights organizations and media house. It is bad that we have to wait for the international community to intervene before our leaders decided it was the right time to dissolve the unit. This is just insensitive and a clear display of inhumanity and indecision.
Even though the SARS Unit was dissolved and its personnel asked to report to Abuja for proper psychological examination, its personnel who have violated and committed so many atrocities were, still not brought to book instead the NPF formed a new unit (SWAT) to tackle crimes. This did not go well with the protesters as they thought it was just change in name, others a right step at the wrong time that is why, there were sustained calls to End SWAT as well.
These protest which started in Lagos grew up to 26 States of the country, with even police officers, government officials even joining to advocate for these rights of citizens. As it has always been a Nigerian Story, the protest which was peaceful was infiltrated by thugs hired by government agents to derail the protest, turn it violent, led to the destruction of lives and property in several part of the country especially Abuja and Lekki, Lagos just to discredit the just struggle and campaign to end law enforcement excesses. Thus, violating the VAPP Act 2015 and Anti-Torture Act 2017. A group that has been peaceful all these days cannot suddenly turn violent. It is sabotage.
NOPRIN demands the following;
- NOPRIN demand explanation from All Service Chiefs in the Country for their role in the killings happening in the country and if within 24 hours they cannot come out to explain, they should be sacked as earlier recommended by the senate.
- Demand explanation from the Lagos State government for its role in the killings in the State and for the governor to carryout critical steps to address these issues at hand.
- Demand explanation from the alleged sponsor of killings in Lekki Toll gate, Bola Tinubu, if he fails to reply, he should be arrested and tried in the court of law for this grave crime against Nigeria.
- The military officer who gave the order and all those troops who went to the scene to shoot are peaceful protesters should be sacked immediately and be made the face the law. The Nigerian Army should also release the corpses of peaceful protesters to their families immediately.
- We demand an explanation from the CP NPF Lagos as it was the responsibility of the Nigerian Police Force to guide peaceful protesters and they should have been there to guide the protesters but failed in their responsibility to protect lives and property.
- The families of the victims, both civilian and Police killed, injured, should be compensated and honoured because the died for Nigeria as heroes. Those who also lost their properties, Cars to these attacks by sponsored hoodlums should also be compensated for their loss.
- Those government officials who sponsored thugs to cause havoc to try to discredit the protest of well-meaning Nigerians should be sort out, sacked and made to face the wrath of the law.
- Honour the list of demands of protesters
- Names of victims that are compensated should be made public as well as the kind/amount of compensation for accountability of resources.
- The Federal Government should activate the Police Trust Fund and mandate all concerned to pay as stated in the Police Trust Fund Act 2019
- The directive to decongest prison should be sustained as there are still a lot of petty offenders still in detention centres’ and correctional facilities
- NOPRIN also condemns the violent attacks on police and police Station as this is not part of protest and culprits should be made to face the wrath of the law.
(Network on Police Reform in Nigeria)