292 views | Stanley Ugagbe | October 21, 2020
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has outrightly condemned the mass shooting of #EndSARS protesters by the Nigerian army on Tuesday at Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
The body in a statement on Wednesday which was jointly signed by Chief E k Clark (South-South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo (South East), and Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt), said 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 statement reads “The southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (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 Major General Muhammed 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 Major General 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, soldiers 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.
While noting that the police killed several other protesters in the Mushin area and other parts of the state, the group said “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”.
While expressing sadness over the killings of an unspecified number of people across the state, the body said “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 an UN-supervised inquiry into this Genocide. The world should remember that it was the extrajudicial 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 – soldiers 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 soldiers and Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai as well as other possible accomplices such as Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu to appear at the International Criminal Court to answer charges for these killings
The body stated that all those who directly engaged in the killings must be fished out for punishment.
“It would be a smack of cowardice for us not to have the courage to call on Buhari to step down as President of Nigeria after this wicked murder of young Nigerians,” the group said.