Lekki Toll-Gate Shootings: Quick trial of assailants to pacify fuming rage

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Nigeria has negatively positioned itself on the keynote of international discourse. Over a few days, the Country has continued to trail the path of international subject of interest, as crisis has come to throw the African Giant into disorder. The fuel that ignited the heightening of a protest that began peacefully, was the irrational onslaught of open fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll-gate in Lagos on Tuesday night. The senseless action of the Military officers has cost the entire Country irreparable damages of human and economic losses. The death and injuries that trailed the open fire on the unarmed protesters did no more than to infuriate already angered populace. While knocks from Statesmen and the international community have continued to reverberate on the Government, the situation at hand demands the later to employ conflict resolution strategies to stem down the tides of the fury, which it instigated by its obnoxious tactlessness.

As the International community continue to condemn the action, the United State Government on Thursdsy has called for an immediate investigation into what it described as “the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators.” Condemning the action, the U.S. government,  stressed on the legality of the “right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression”, describing such as an “essential human rights and core democratic principles.”

A statement signed by the United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo titled ‘Ongoing Protests in Nigeria’ reads: “The United States strongly condemns the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury. We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces.  Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law. The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles. We call on the security services to show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and for demonstrators to remain peaceful. We extend our condolences to the victims of the violence and their families.”

Concerned by the fatalities of human and economic losses that have greeted the Country since the Tuesday night  irrational Military onslaught, Members of the House of Representatives, under the auspices of Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF), have urged the leadership of the National Assembly, to reconvene both Houses for an emergency session to address the fury erupting from what it described as the “extrajudicial killings and violence” which according to it “are highly condemnable and unacceptable.”

The forum which made a urgent call for identification and prosecution of the armed men in Military uniform who attacked innocent protesters, urged the Federal Government to accede to the demands of the youth and ensure comprehensive reforms in the security sector.

The Chairman of the Forum, Rep. Kabir Ibrahim Tukura while addressing journalists on behalf of the young lawmakers said: “The past few days have been the toughest time in our democracy, especially the horrendous loss of lives of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, 20th of October 2020. We have observed unpleasant developments across major cities in Nigeria with scores of young people killed and many injured as a result of the ongoing #EndSARS# peaceful protest led by young people. These extrajudicial killings and violence are highly condemnable and unacceptable. We have observed with dismay the recruitment and deployment of hoodlums and thugs to disrupt and hijack the protest by unpatriotic Nigerians. These have occasioned the death of innocent citizens, the destruction of government and private property and the disruption of economic activities in some cities around the country. Our sincere sympathy goes to the families of people who lost their lives in the process and we pray the almighty consoles them in this moment of grief. We urge the Federal Government to ensure adequate and immediate compensation to the victims of police brutality, bandit and terrorism.

“As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian Army should identify the armed men in Military uniform who attacked innocent protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos on October 20, 2020. We also urge the Nigeria Police Force to identify officers who attacked peaceful protesters in cities across the states. Similarly, the sponsors of the human rights violations and violence perpetrated by thugs across the Federation must be made to face the full wrath of the law. We urge the Federal Government to accede to the demands of the youth and ensure comprehensive reforms in the security sector. As Young Parliamentarians, we are committed to the yearnings of Nigerian youths and to this end, we will be taking all necessary actions within our purview to ensure justice and accountability. In view Of the foregoing, the Young Parliamentarians Forum of the 9th Assembly ashes to submit as follows: The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency reconvene for an emergency session to discuss the alleged killings of peaceful protesters. In addition, an investigative public hearing on the loss of lives and human rights violation resulting from police brutality is highly recommended. The epicentre of the current protest is the acts of brutality by the police and its proscribed tactical unit, SARS. The Federal Government must demonstrate a genuine commitment to reforming the police and the protection of the youth and citizens from police brutality which has resulted in several avoidable deaths.

“Immediate inauguration of the Nigeria Police Council and the constitution of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission which should include youth representation.  Also, the government should empower youth and women through special social development and mentorship programs.

“We implore the federal government to provide leadership in national reconciliation, peace and justice through inclusive and transparent dialogues with citizens and ensure individuals and institutions who violate constitutionally guaranteed rights are held to account.”

It would be recalled that the Not Too Young To Run Movement had on Wednesday, called on the National Assembly to convene an emergency session following the killings of ENDSARS protesters, Tuesday night. The Movement in a statement had in its call urged the National Assembly to consider the killings of protesters as a national emergency that demands urgency, while calling for “a comprehensive investigation into the shooting of innocent and harmless #ENDSARS protesters by heavily armed soldiers.”

The statement had read: “The last two weeks have seen a reawakening of Nigerian youth to fight for a country they can call home. Young people protested and agitated for an end to police brutality and human rights violation. These protests are legitimate and constitutional. Nigerian youth constitute the largest demographic of the nation’s population and are the most affected by the abuse and brutality of officers of the security agencies. These actions have direct, adverse effects on the wellbeing, safety, productivity and consequently, the economy of our dear nation. Nigeria cannot afford to silence its youth. Nigeria cannot afford to ignore this injustice to the youth. As a movement we demand a comprehensive investigation into the shooting of innocent and harmless #ENDSARS protesters by heavily armed soldiers at the Lekki toll gate. This investigation should unravel those culpable including the individual/persons who sanctioned the military operation. An immediate withdrawal of the military and other security officers deployed to quell the #EndSARS protesters in Lagos and other states; A national address by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the attacks and killings of protesters by security officers, especially the 20 October 2020 shooting in Lagos state and other states. The National Assembly should convene an emergency session to address the Lekki Tollgate killings and as a matter of urgency conduct an investigative public hearing on these reported extrajudicial killings of #EndSARS protesters by security agencies and ensure accountability and justice for the injured and dead protesters. The international community sustains its pressure in holding the Nigerian government to account for its commitment to human right protection. International sanctions should be deployed against public officials who violate the Nigerian constitution by assaulting the rights of citizens.”

As increasing displeasures and calls continue to reverberate on the military onslaught, it is essential that the Federal Government constitute with immediate effect, a panel to investigate and bring the military assailants to book. A swift action in this direction is critical to dousing the heightening tensions which have trailed the ugly distemper since Tuesday. It is important for such panel to be constituted with the sincerity of giving chance for justice to have its full course. On  commencement of trials, updates of proceedings should be made open to the populace, while broad chance should be given to witnesses and victims who experienced the gruesome attack to table their evidence for Justice to take course.

It is noteworthy that attempts to conceal the wrongdoing and deny the facts of happenings, will do graver arm than good. Such resort holds the possibilities of escalating more aggression built upon feelings of being cheatedon the part of the populace with an instigation to resort to jungle justice which may further create deeper anarchical situations in the Country. The necessity to restore order in the Country is highly alarming, and as a result, all avenue of civil resolution approaches must be exploited to stem down the tide of the prevailing rage.