It is a matter of deep concern that security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters in Lekki and other parts of the country on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 after repeated assurances by the government on the rights of citizens to peaceful protests. The barbaric and unconstructive approach to keeping protesters off the streets by the Nigerian government is even more regrettable at a time when citizens’ trust in the ability of government to address their concerns is at its lowest.
We are deeply concerned by the “military operation” at the Lekki tollgate. We call on President Buhari to reign in all security forces under his control as we do not expect this action from a nation that prides itself as a member of the Community of Democracies. The use of force has undermined the stability of the country, bringing back bad memories of the military era.
We maintain our position that the right to peaceful protest in a democracy is guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and must always be respected. The recent breach of this right is unacceptable and truly disappointing. We want to be clear that the Lagos State and Federal Government of Nigeria will be held responsible for the death of innocent citizens expressing their legitimate displeasure at police brutality that has existed for far too long without meaningful action, on the part of government to address the issue before now.
We continue to urge all the 36 State Governors and Federal Government to ensure the timely release of all protesters, treatment of all wounded protesters, protection of lives and properties. We reaffirm the call by the civil society community across the country and globally on the need to investigate this act we have termed “crime against humanity”. The Federal Government under whose control the military operates must establish a mechanism to identify perpetrators of the heinous act at the Lekki tollgate and across the country. Accountability in this instance is crucial.