Global human rights’ body, Amnesty International, has lamented that 100 days after the Lekki tollgate shooting in Lagos State, the government has yet to secure justice for the victims of the incident but has been engaging in denials and cover-up.
Amnesty International expressed worry that the EndSARS movement’s supporters have continued to face intimidation from the state actors such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, which since December 2020 froze the accounts of about 20 identified supporters.
In a release on Thursday, the AI stated that the authorities had yet to initiate concrete police reforms.
The international body said, “Since the assault by security forces, which killed at least 12 people, Nigerian authorities have targeted supporters of the protests against police brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Some of the movement’s supporters have had their bank accounts frozen.”
“The bloody events of 20 October 2020, when Nigerian security forces killed at least 12 people during the violent dispersal of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki and Alausa, have cast a shadow over Nigerian society that lingers to this day,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Instead of bringing suspected perpetrators to justice and prioritising genuine police reforms, Nigerian authorities have been abusing their powers by subjecting those who supported the protests to intimidation, harassment and smear campaigns.”
The AI stated that reports from across Nigeria indicated that police violence was still widespread despite government promises of change.
Amnesty International noted that it was concerned that the Nigerian authorities would continue their current ban on protests.
It reminded the government of its obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international human rights treaties to – which the country is a state party – to allow those who gather peacefully to express their views without fear of arrest or intimidation.
“International human rights law also requires the Nigerian authorities to carry out prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and effective investigations into violations of human rights of the protesters, including the right to life, such as those committed at Lekki and Alausa, as well as in other parts of the country, and to identify and bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials.
“Those suspected to be responsible for the killings should be brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards,” Ojigho added.
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to suspend accused officials, pending investigations, and to ensure that victims access justice and effective remedies.
It will be recalled that the state government set up a panel of inquiry to investigate complaints against SARS and the incidents at Lekki and Alausa on 20 October 2020.
However, the government officials and the military continue to deny that anybody was killed during the protests while restating their resolve to punish leaders of the #EndSARS movement against police violence.