Following Tuesday’s massacre of unarmed #EndSARS demonstrators at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos by Nigerian soldiers, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and commit for trial President Muhammadu Buhari; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, as well as other alleged possible accomplices, including the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
In a statement entitled ‘Black Tuesday: Buhari and co must pay for this genocide’ jointly signed by Chief Edwin Clark (south-south), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (south-west), Chief John Nwodo (southeast) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt) the forum described the tollgate killing and others across Nigeria during the protest as “orchestrated” and “fangs-bearing.”
“The killings that claimed scores of lives across cities in Nigeria on Tuesday, 20.10.2020 appeared orchestrated and fangs – barring in the most despotic manner aimed at smashing the #ENDSARS protests that have been in the order of constitutionally recognised right to peaceful protests,” it said.
It accused the federal government of setting up the protesters for a crackdown by sponsoring hoodlums to infiltrate the protest and attacking the protesters in Lagos and Abuja.
“Buhari’s regime, behaving like a junta that does not brook any opposition, allegedly started sponsoring thugs against the protesters until Tuesday when it removed all gloves.
“In Lekki Tollgate in Lagos that was the Tiananmen Square of the crackdown, solders openly opened fire on protesters killing them and carting away their bodies.
“In the Federal Capital Territory, there were also reports of killings of protesters in alleged state-sponsored violence as miscreants from the president’s corner of the country were reportedly mobilised to kill protesters. Killings were reported in other towns and cities across Nigeria. We frown at the killings of an unspecified number of people in state murders.
“We totally reject the various panels set up in different parts of the country as there is no basis to get justice under this regime as all institutions that can give such are under its armpit. As such, we demand UN-supervised inquiry into this genocide. The world should remember that it was the extra-judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf that gave rise to the violent Boko Haram which Nigeria has battled unsuccessfully for 10 years,” it stated.
Similarly, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) called for an international inquiry into the killing and maiming of peaceful #ENDSARS protesters at the toll plaza.
CAPPA in a statement pointed out that the right to protest, which accompanies freedom of expression is guaranteed in section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution, hence the government was counteracting the laws it is supposed to guard.
“The present administration at the centre and government at all levels must not only obey the laws, they must also uphold the civic freedoms enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“They must show seriousness by honouring the legitimate demands of the #ENDSARS protesters which are in perfect sitting with what Nigerians have over the years been demanding.
“The gruesome murder of protesters that we have seen, read and heard in the news and social media is totally unacceptable. “We urge the entire human rights community to resist attempts to instill fear in Nigerians using tactics that only happened in the military era.
“We demand a probe of the entire incidents and it must be international in nature because the Nigerians system has been compromised,” CAPPA said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus n the House of Representatives threatened to drag the federal government to the ICC
The caucus leader, Mr. Kingsley Chinda issued the threat after an emergency meeting to review the state of the nation, made the threat.
The Caucus also reiterated their call for a change of security chiefs and the need for true federalism.
“Mindless killing of Nigerians (their Constituents) who were already demonstrating against unresolved cases of extrajudicial murders orchestrated by government forces and commiserates with families of all those including policemen who lost their lives whilst praying for the repose of their souls.
“The PDP caucus wonders why the leadership of the nation, instead of heeding to citizens call for responsive leadership would resort to watching machinery of state sniff life out of harmless agitators, in a decade of reasonable engagement and citizens’ participation has become a courted virtue in other climes.
“The caucus calls for the withdrawal of the military from the streets of Lagos and other parts of the country where human rights’ abuses are reported.
“The PDP caucus agrees that there is need to rejig our abusive implementation of federalism, calling to mind the need to engender a national conversation by adopting the 2014 National Conference report for consideration by the national assembly, as well as constitutional amendment to divest power and resources from the centre to states and local government areas.”
The legislators urged President Muhammadu Buhari to: “Set up a National Judicial Panel of enquiry into citizen’s grievances, establish a national compensation fund for victims of the police brutality; an unemployment benefit fund to be contributed by the three levels of government to cushion the biting effect of the downward economic realities in the country.”
Besides, it advised the president to immediately order the arrest and prosecution of officers involved in the Lekki killings and urgently rejig the nation’s security architecture through commendable reforms and appointment of more competent service chiefs, to handle the pile-up of security challenges confronting the nation.
“The caucus calls on the President to urgently address Nigeria on the strategies of the government towards tackling the issues with timelines.
“The caucus finally resolved that where the President fails to take decisive and satisfactory action within a reasonable time, the caucus shall consider and activate legislative actions to salvage the situation and ensure that all those involved in the killings face a criminal trial at ICC.”
The lawmakers also appealed to the youths to be peaceful in their agitation for a better country.
The European Union and the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria also reacted to the killings.
The high representative/vice-president of the EU, Josep Borrell in a statement called for justice to be served on the perpetrators of the killings.
“It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria.”
“It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable. Following the Government’s will to deliver on reforms, we expect to see decisive implementation,” he said.
Also, a statement by the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria said condemned the use of “disproportionate force” on the defenceless demonstrators.
“It is with great concern that we receive the information showing the use of disproportionate force by security forces at the #LekkiTollgate in Lagos yesterday, seemingly resulting in deaths of some #EndSARS protesters.”
“#SwedenInNigeria Emphasizing the respect for #HumanRights and peaceful demonstrations, we urge security forces to exercise restraint and ask Nigerian authorities (@NigeriaGov) to urgently investigate the incident,” the embassy said in a tweet statement.