By Dapo Akinrefon
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, Wednesday, expressed anger over the killing of peaceful protesters by security personnel noting that those responsible for the act must be brought to book.
It also called on the United Nations to set up a commission of inquiry into the killings.
This was contained in a statement by Chief E k Clark (South South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo, (South East), and Dr Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt).
The statement reads: “The SMBLF is devastated by the premeditated killings of Nigerian peaceful protesters with the kind of force that has yet to be seen even against terrorist Boko Haram by the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The killings that claimed scores of lives across cities in Nigeria on Tuesday 20/10/2020 appeared orchestrated and fangs – baring in the most despotic manner aimed at smashing the #ENDSARS protests that have been in the order of constitutionally recognized right to peaceful protests.
But the Buhari 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 Tianamen Square of the crackdown, solders openly opened fire on protesters killing them and carting away their bodies. Eyewitness reports say the soldiers allegedly switched off lights in the area as well as the CCTV cameras before they started sporadic shootings.
“The gruesome killings was a reflection of what dictators do with ethnic militia which Buhari has turned our security forces to in the last five years which is part of his atrocities we are currently challenging in court.
“The police killed several other protesters in Mushin area and other parts of the state.
24 hours before the killings, former Governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu who was accused of backing the protest was invited to Abuja. Shortly after returning his godson the governor, Mr Babatunde Sanwo-Olu issued a few hours notice for a 24-hour curfew in the state in what now appears like a preparation for the crackdown. The Governor and his godfather now seem to have a replay of late Sir Michael Otedola as Lagos Governor who, in collaboration with Abacha in 1993, mowed down peaceful protesters.
“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 mobilized to kill protesters.
“Killings were reported in other towns and cities across Nigeria.
“We frown at the killings of 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 a 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.
“We also need to confirm the allegation that Lt. Col. S O Bello of 65 Battalion, Bonny Camp led the killer – solders and who gave the order to such a junior officer.
“We would want to see the President, who is the only person who can deploy solders and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen l. Tukur Buratai as well as other possible accomplices, to appear at the International Criminal Court to answer charges for these killings
“We send our condolences to all families who have lost dear ones to the state killings.
“We also appreciate all medical facilities that offered to treat the wounded free.
“We salute the young people for their courageous action of breaking the culture of silence.
“This is a serious crime against humanity that must not go unpunished.
“All those who directly engaged in the killings must be fished out for punishment.
“It would smack of cowardice for us nor to have the courage to call on Buhari to step down as President of Nigeria after this wicked murder of young Nigerians.”