UN human rights experts have told the Nigerian government to set up a credible independent inquiry into the recent illegal killings of at least 12 peaceful protesters by soldiers in Lekki.
“Since 2005, UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government,” the experts said. “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.”
Excessive use of force on peaceful protester is unacceptable, the experts said, but the shootings at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on 20 October were “especially disturbing because demonstrators were precisely calling for accountability for previous police brutality.”
Citizens of Nigeria have taken to the streets across the country since 8 October to protest against rights violations reportedly committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“What is particularly disturbing is that the authorities said they had disbanded the SARS and agreed to the protestors other demands, including investigations,” the experts said. “But they immediately announced the formation of another similar unit and have not ended the excessive use of force.”
With protesters been met with water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition, hundreds have been injured and an unknown number killed in the process.
However, the security services in charge have allegedly arrested and beaten peaceful protestors, and armed individuals have attacked others.
“The fact that in the Lekki toll plaza incident CCTV cameras and lights were apparently switched off shortly before soldiers opened fire on the peaceful protestors indicates a disturbing level of premeditation,” the experts told.
The experts have called on the government to set up an independent inquiry and authorities must clarify to why the military was deployed and who is behind the order.
“Any investigation must aim to identify lines of responsibility, deliver accountability and justice, provide remedies and reparations, and recommend structural and systemic changes,” experts said.
The group have written directly to the Nigerian government, stressing that “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.”
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