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IKFF Nigerias uttalande om #EndSARS

2020-10-27

Uttalande från IKFF Nigeria (WILPF Nigeria) om polisvåldet, den senaste tidens protester och dödandet av demonstranter.

WILPF Nigeria press statement on the killing of #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria

The End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (End SARS) or #EndSARS is a decentralized social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. The SARS unit a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police Force with a long record of abuses raging from kidnapping, unlawful arrests, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, extortion, murder, theft, rape, torture and humiliation in Nigeria. SARS officers have been alleged to profile youths based on fashion choices, mount illegal road blocks and searches, conduct unwarranted temperature checks, arrest without warrant, rape women, and extort young Nigerians for driving exotic vehicles and using iPhones. The protest which started in the month of October 2020 following the deaths of two young youths with video evidence showing how the SARS officials shot one upon seizing his SUV car and the other who was just sitting at a hotel with a friend was shot dead. Majority of Nigerians took to sharing both stories and video evidence of inhumane treatment and experience with SARS members.

This led to a peaceful mass demonstrations occurring throughout Nigeria in major cities with Nigerians in diaspora carrying out same protest in foreign countries.

The protests were led predominantly by young Nigerians in different cities alongside many activists and celebrities. In some cities the peaceful protest was disrupted by the police force throwing teargas and shooting at unarmed peaceful protesters. This led to the death of one Jimoh Isiaq in Ogbomoso Oyo State. The protesters highlighted Five (5) demands to the FG which are;

  1. Immediate release of all arrested protesters, II. Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families, III. Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days), IV. In line with the new police act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed, V. Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.

On Sunday, 11 October 2020, Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu announced the ”dissolution” of SARS. This did not go down well with the protesters as they criticized the announcement, pointing out that similar promises had been made in earlier years and that the government’s plan was to reassign SARS officers to other police departments rather than eliminate them from the force entirely.

On Tuesday, 13 October 2020, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police Force, Frank Mba, announced the setting up of a Special Weapon and Tactics Team (SWAT) to replace SARS. This changed the protesters hash tags from #EndSARS to #ENDSWAT.

Following the protesters demands, the Governor of Lagos state promised to set up a two hundred million naira (N200m) fund for residents of the State who have been victims of police brutality. The governor had a meeting with the President Muhammadu Buhari to present the demands of the protesters in Lagos. A video from this meeting had shown the President chuckle as the Governor talked about his state’s compensation fund for victims. The President’s actions met a lot of negative criticism from Nigerians protesters giving the fact the president has not addressed the nation/youth since the protest began.

The peaceful protest continued but was hijacked by some thugs which from some videos released showed some of the thugs stating how they were paid 1,500 naira to disrupt the peaceful protest. In Abuja there were cases of thugs attacking the protesters, destroying of cars and properties and killing of protesters. Also in Lagos there were cases of thugs attacking protesters and destroying properties. In Benin it was also acclaimed that the thugs broke the state’s prison and freed inmates.

Following the violent escalations which included attacks by hoodlums against protesters and police, the governor of Lagos state, declared a state-wide 24-hour curfew effective 4:00 PM and later extended to 9pm WAT same day on October 20. During this time, images of some persons alleged to be working with the Lagos State government contractor and the Lekki Concession Company were seen removing the CCTV Cameras at the toll gate circulated on Twitter and Instagram. A few hours later, it was reported that by 6:47pm armed men of the Nigerian Army arrived to the Lekki phase 1 scene of the peaceful protest and under the guise of darkness opened fire on the peaceful unarmed youth protesters. Also at the scene were the Nigerian Police and the SARS members who arrived 40-45mins after the soldiers had left. Spraying teargas and shooting directly to the protesters. Still, the protesters were in unity raising their flags and singing the national anthem despite being shot at.

Despite video evidence to the contrary, the Lagos State government reported that the shooting resulted in up to 25 injured and only 1 dead. This negates the report sent in by various live testimonials from Twitter and Instagram users who had live recordings of the shootings stating there were about 15 dead and several wounded. Following the killings on October 20, video evidences show that more shootings were still being carried out by the Nigerian army and the Nigerian police on the unarmed protesters across different states of the country. This killing became the tipping point, hoodlums and thugs seized the opportunity to attack, burn buildings and loot properties across some states in Nigeria. This led to the rolling out of the military and a 24 hr curfew declared across some states of Nigeria and Lagos inclusive.

The President of the nation made a statement 48 hrs after the incident without any reference to the incident . In every democratic nation, peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy and also the right of the citizens when they feel their right has been violated or the need to voice their complaints. Violence is never a response to a peaceful protest. Nigerian women are mourning their children and youths are demanding that the government be held accountable. Nigeria is a signatory to human rights treaties and is not a military state. We would keep calling for accountability and total reforms until our demands are met and our children’s killers are brought to justice.

It is on this note that we demand that;

  1. We call for an independent transparent enquiry into the Lekki killings at Federal and Lagos State level. This enquiry should encompass witness protection, sanctions for those culpable and justice for all victims.
  2. The Nigerian government upholds the rights of its citizens as it is their rights to engage in a peaceful protest.
  3. The Nigerian government respects the ECOWAS protocol and international human rights treaties on democracy and good governance which states that the use of arms to disperse non-violent demonstrations shall be forbidden.
  4. The Nigerian government engages women mediators across the country to help mediate in this situation before it escalates to a worse situation.
  5. The 5 of 5 requests of the protesters be met by the federal government and peace is restored to our great nation Nigeria.
  6. The Federal Government recalls the military and replace with well trained community sensitive Police.

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