On October 8th, young Nigerians all over the country took to the streets in unity against the government to protest against police brutality especially violations reportedly committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest went on for about two weeks with the #EndSARS movement taking to the streets every day, reluctant to stop till the government met their demands. Then the #LekkiMassacare happened, excessive use of force began to occur during peaceful leading to the shootings of protests by Nigerian soldiers at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on 20 October. The protestors have been met with water cannons, tear gas, and live ammunition. Hundreds have been injured and an unknown number killed. In addition, security services have allegedly arrested and beaten protestors, and armed individuals have attacked others.
The global world has since then called on the government to provide who gave the order on the hit with no consistent and accurate response from them. In addition to setting up an independent inquiry, authorities must clarify why the military was deployed.
Systematic police brutality and use of excessive force against peaceful protesters must be independently and impartially investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
At the GENEVA yesterday, the United Nations called on the Nigerian government to set up a credible, independent inquiry into the recent illegal killings of at least 12 peaceful protestors by soldiers.
In a press release, they had this to say.
“Since 2005, UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government. We have had 15 years of government promises, but nothing has changed. Governments come and go, but police brutality is as intractable as ever. Nigerians need justice. What is particularly disturbing is that the authorities said they had disbanded the SARS and agreed to the protestor’s other demands, including investigations, but they immediately announced the formation of another similar unit and have not ended the excessive use of force. Any investigation must aim to identify lines of responsibility, deliver accountability and justice, provide remedies and reparations, and recommend structural and systemic changes. The authorities have promised for years to address human rights violations by the security forces. Hundreds of victims and relatives of those who died have testified and sent petitions, but they never received any remedy, not even the acknowledgment that their rights were violated. It is crucial that the government releases all these reports to the public before they start new investigations. It is high time that concrete action is taken to properly look into all incidents and that structural changes be made to prevent any re-occurrence.”
The experts also called on the government to release the reports of previous investigations into human rights violations by the security forces. These include the 2019 report by the National Human Rights Commission report on SARS and the 2018 report by the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement.