168 views | Akanimo Sampson | October 26, 2020
Activists are demanding justice and urging more international organisations to lend their voice against the condemnable chain of events that took place in Nigeria particularly on October 20.
One of such groups, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) is calling for an international inquiry into what it described as, ‘’the reprehensible killing and maiming of harmless EndSARS protesters by the Nigerian government’’.
Already, the group has launched a mass petition campaign to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, detailing the use of brutal force on peaceful EndSARS protesters by security forces allegedly deployed by the Buhari administration that allegedly left mass casualties.
CAPPA says its approach and way of working is to stand with communities, to build their capacity to influence state and corporate policies and practices through networking and building of alliances and coalitions, among others.
It strongly believes that through organising for collective social actions, it shall be able to stop and prevent deleterious corporate practices, improve inclusive and participatory governance, and mitigate the impacts of harmful corporate and state practices on communities.
Since the most effective and sustainable campaigns are evidence-based, it prioritises research and the generation and dissemination of knowledge on its thematic programme areas.
‘’In our work with communities, we also place emphasis on the organising and mobilising capacity of citizens groups and relevant social groups – including unions of workers in public service, in agriculture, in the extractives industries and other relevant sectors’’, the group Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, says.
Adding, he said CAPPA leverages support from the media and facilitate the building of strategic relationships with the media. ‘’We make significant use of the social media and the tools provided by that medium to build solidarity, amplify messages, and rally supporters for our cause. We engage with governments and corporations to demand transparency and accountability; as well as inclusive, responsive and participatory governance.’’
On the alleged repression of citizens during the protest, CAPPA said, ‘’the disturbing images of military men mowing down peaceful and harmless EndSARS protesters is totally uncivil and unacceptable. Perpetrators of this premeditated murder must be identified and brought to book”.
Continuing, Oluwafemi, says ‘’we are still in shock and deeply saddened that the Nigerian government decided to draft trigger-happy soldiers to forcefully suppress youths waving Nigerian flags and demanding reforms that will be beneficial to all Nigerians, including the soldiers themselves.”
He points out that with ample evidence from the live feed from the scene of the mayhem, Nigerians have every reason to doubt government sincerity in addressing the situation, even as he added that since the protesters in Lekki had been converging they have been very civil and organised in their occupation of the toll gate hence the attacks were totally unwarranted.
“Instead of the carnage they unleashed on peaceful and harmless youths, we would have expected the government to look instead into allegations backed by audio visuals, of thugs working side by side their own security forces to portray the EndSARS protests as violent and politically-motivated”.
The CAPPA chief is particularly irked by the fact that those who rode to power on the mantra of protests permitted under a democracy now urge the use of extreme force to dissuade peaceful protesters, and frowned at the initial denial of deaths by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in his public broadcast in the early hours of Wednesday.
The right to protest, according to him, which accompanies freedom of expression is guaranteed under Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution, pointing out that the Buhari administration was counteracting the laws it was supposed to guard.
“The administration at the centre and government at all levels must not only obey the laws, they must also uphold the civic freedoms enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. They must show seriousness by honouring the legitimate demands of the EndSARS protesters which are in perfect sitting with what Nigerians have over the years been demanding.
“The gruesome murder of protesters that we have seen, read and heard in the news and social media is totally unacceptable. We urge the entire human rights community to resist attempts to instil fear in Nigerians using tactics that only happened in the military era. We demand a probe of the entire incident and it must be international in nature because the Nigerians system has been compromised’’, the CAPPA chief said.
Nigerian citizens were locked in peaceful protests that later went awry, demanding the scrapping of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police (SARS) for their high-handedness, corruption, and extrajudicial killings across the country since October 8.
The Lekki incident followed the imposition of a curfew on Lagos and the state governments alleged invitation of the military to chase the protesters from the Lekki Toll Gate grounds which they had occupied for days.
Private accounts and videos making the rounds tend to indicate that the armed security forces stormed the venue around 7pm on Tuesday, hemming the protesters in and started shooting sporadically, killing some persons in the process.
It is also being alleged that the security forces went away with many of the dead and prevented ambulances from conveying the injured to hospitals. The attacks were allegedly preceded by the switching off of the lights in the vicinity by unknown persons.