By Emmanuel Elebeke & Dirisu Yakubu
About 32 Civil Society groups have jointly signed a petition demanding for prosecution of all the security personnel involved in the bloody shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki TollGate in Lagos on Tuesday night.
In the petition made available to Vanguard on Thursday, the petitioners said they were deeply shocked by the killing of peaceful protesters across Nigeria on Tuesday and insisted that the perpetrators must be brought to book.
The group regretted that the attempt by the protesters to fight for justice over police brutality exposed the brutal nature of the Nigerian state rather than bringing peace.
The petition reads in part: ‘‘The attempt to fight for justice over police brutality has again revealed the brutal nature of the Nigerian state. At the last count, not less than 40 Nigerians have lost their lives as a result of violent attempts to crack down or disrupt the ongoing protests against police brutality.
‘‘There is also documentary evidence, which indicts a combined force of sponsored thugs and members of the Nigerian security forces for the deaths of innocent protesters. Particularly disturbing is the massacre of unarmed and very peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos yesterday.
‘‘The sight of the Nigerian flag stained with the blood of the nation’s youth, in a month the country celebrated sixty years of independence, is a gory sight to behold. These killings are totally unacceptable, just as they stand condemned.
‘‘It is pertinent to recall that this coalition previously warned the Nigerian authorities about the danger of deploying the military to confront unarmed protesters. We therefore strongly condemn the needless loss of the lives of young Nigerians as a result of the blatant refusal to heed warnings that the government should NOT bring in the military to quell a protest by citizens demanding police reforms and good governance.
‘‘We, the undersigned coalition of civil society organisations, are deeply shocked by the killing of peaceful protesters across Nigeria yesterday.’’
The coalition further condemned the lack of restraint, and the level of impunity displayed by the Army Officers who obeyed the unlawful order to unleash maximum force on protesters.
‘‘It is disheartening that members of the armed forces, who are supposed to be servants and protectors of the people are the very elements firing live ammunition on protesters, resulting in the death and injury of scores of citizens.
‘‘We reiterate our initial point by stating that the grievances driving the protests are legitimate, and also condemned the activities of hoodlums, who have perpetrated acts to cause mayhem and undermine the essence of the peaceful protests. This coalition stands with other Nigerians in affirming our constitutional right to protest.’’
They therefore called on all friends of Nigeria to sustain pressure on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to rein in members of the armed forces carrying out the killings of unarmed protesters.
The group also demanded the investigation of perpetrators of the ongoing atrocities targeted at unarmed protesters.
The CSOs equally called on the National Assembly to hold an emergency session to address the killing of protesters and hold a national public hearing to investigate the abuse of power and killing of peaceful protesters by security agencies and the failure to arrest thugs and hoodlums who attacked the #EndSARS protesters and innocent citizens across different states.
The coalition further called on the International Criminal Court to open investigation to ongoing crimes against humanity being committed against the peaceful and unarmed #EndSars protesters in Nigeria. It also demanded an open trial of all those involved in previous acts of police brutality, human rights abuse and crackdowns, which have led to the needless deaths of defenseless citizens.
Some of the signatories include: the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Enough is Enough (EIE); Partners for Electoral Reform; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Centre for Information, Technology and Development (CITAD) and YIAGA Africa.
Others are: Global Rights; Project Alert; Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) Paradigm Initiative (PIN) and Rule of Law and Accountability Centre (RULAAC) among others.
Vanguard News Nigeria