Tuesday’s killing of peaceful #EndSARS protesters across the country generated strong condemnation by eminent Nigerians and international bodies on Wednesday.
Protests by youths demanding the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, which began on October 8, assumed a violent dimension last week when hoodlums and security agents started attacking protesters.
On Tuesday, the violence escalated when soldiers and policemen, as well as hoodlums, killed no fewer than 43 protesters. Six policemen also lost their lives in the crisis.
Those, who commented on the killings, berated the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for deploying armed security agents against unarmed protesters.
Demand soldiers’ withdrawal, Soyinka advises govs, says army must apologise
Condemning the killings, an elder statesman, Prof. Wole Soyinka, called on governors in states where there were protests to immediately demand the withdrawal of soldiers deployed by the Federal Government.
The playwright made the call in a statement issued on Wednesday from his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The statement was titled, ‘DÉJÀ VU – In tragic vein.’
The Nobel laureate said, “To the affected governors all over the nation, there is one immediate step to take: demand the withdrawal of those soldiers. Convoke town hall meetings as a matter of urgency. 24-hour curfews are not the solution. Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage. Substitute community self-policing based on local councils, to curb hooligan infiltration and extortionist and destructive opportunism. We commiserate with the bereaved and urge state governments to compensate material losses, wherever.”
He also said the army must apologise, not merely to the nation but to the global community – “the facts are indisputable – you, the military, opened fire on unarmed civilians. There has to be structured restitution and assurance that such aberrations will not again be recorded.”
Act now before it’s too late, Obasanjo’s tells Buhari
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote an open letter to the President on the killings, urging him to act fast before it was too late.
Obasanjo accused Buhari and the military of not exhausting all options before they used force against the protesters.
He said, “Great harm has been done, but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control.”
The former president, in the letter, titled ‘statement on violence against protesters in Nigeria: An appeal for calm,’ he personally, signed, urged Buhari to withdraw soldiers from streets and engage protesters in dialogues.
While blaming the President for the murder of the protesters at Lekki and other parts of the country, Obasanjo said the shooting of unarmed protesters had never been effective in suppressing public anger.
He also said, “Most of the demands of the protesting youth, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the President, are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened.”
Obasanjo also advised the youth to eschew violence , advising them to give peace a chance and stop destruction of public property and targeting individuals.
NBA to institute local and international actions against FG
The Nigerian Bar Association condemned the killings and said it had begun local and international actions against the Federal Government.
The NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata, asked the Nigerian Army to immediately identify the soldiers who carried out the attack and dismiss them from service.
He said suits would be initiated by the NBA on behalf of the families of the victims, “for abuse of power, disregard of rules of engagement and the infringement of the fundamental rights (including right to life) of the affected citizens”.
Akpata said these in a statement titled, ‘Nigerian Bar Association condemns the killing of peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Lagos by the Nigerian military.’
Carcasses of BRT buses earlier set on fire in Ojodu-Berger, Lagos
He also said the association would immediately commence legal actions against the Nigerian government and the Army at both international and local fora.
According to him, the protesters’ act of misdemeanour of a breach of the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Government did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the military to confront otherwise peaceful, unarmed and defenseless protesters.
“The military high command is hereby requested to immediately identify and name the officers involved in this gross professional misconduct for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws,” he added.
The NBA has scheduled an emergency meeting of its national executive committee for Thursday.
The General Secretary of the NBA, Joyce Oduah, on Wednesday issued the ‘notice of Nigerian Bar Association national executive committee meeting’.
Listed as the agenda of the meeting which she stated would hold virtually are, “the state of the nation” and “any other business.”
The notice was addressed to ‘All statutory members’ of the association which she listed as including the national officers, past presidents, and past general secretaries, branch chairmen.
rest are, branch secretaries, branch NEC Representatives, and chairmen and secretaries of sections of the associations.
“There will be an Emergency National Executive Committee Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association on the date and at the time specified hereunder.
“The meeting shall be held virtually and members would be sent the link for the meeting.”
Stop attack on protesters, Biden tells Buhari, Army
In the United States, the Democratic Presidential candidate in the upcoming United States election, Joe Biden, called on Buhari and the military to stop the violent crackdown on protesters.
The former American Vice-President said this in a statement titled, ‘Violence in Nigeria – Statement by Vice President Joe Biden’ on Wednesday.
Biden said the United States must stand with Nigerians who were peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption.
The statement read, “I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence.
“The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy. I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”
In the United Kingdom, lawmakers discussed the killings on the floor of the parliament.
A member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth, Stephen Doughty, who is also the Shadow Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister, tweeted a short video on Twitter saying, “I raised the shocking killings of #EndSARS protesters of Lagos Nigeria Lekki tollgate this morning in the House of Commons with the Minister, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Nigel Adams.
“I am horrified by the reports I am receiving. The UK Government must urgently raise it at the highest levels with Nigeria.”