Richard Ginika Izuora
Human rights activist, Femi Falana, and the Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a coalition of labour and civil society groups, have advised President Muhammadu Buhari against deploying soldiers to disperse the #EndSARS protesters from the streets.
Falana issued this warning on behalf of ASCAB on Sunday in Abuja.
Falana also vowed to drag the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, to the International Criminal Court, in The Hague if any of the #EndSARs protesters were killed by any soldiers.
The statement is titled, ‘#EndSARS: Kill protesters, face International Criminal Court, ASCAB cautions Buratai’.
According to the statement, the group urged the FG to cancel plans to use soldiers to quell the protests that have rocked major cities across Nigeria.
Falana warned, “Buhari should not invite soldiers to resolve a purely democratic issue; that calls for dialogue and constructive engagement.”
ASCAB noted that protests have common features across the world as seen in Hong Kong; United States; France; also South Africa; as well as Belarus; and even in Sudan.
It also added that in no instance were soldiers deployed to suppress the protesters.
“Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history,” the group said.
It reminded the Federal Government that Operation Crocodile Smile had been declared illegal by a Nigerian Court; with competent jurisdiction following legal actions filed by Falana.
The group said it was already monitoring and compiling lists of all extra-judicial killings associated with the protests and that Buratai or any soldier involved in any killings would be held personally responsible at the international court.
ASCAB said peaceful protests remained the only way Nigerians are entitled under the Nigerian constitution to register their grievances against a system that suffocates them.
The statement further reads, “The plan to deploy soldiers is dangerous.
“It will push Nigeria into the red light district of global reckoning.
“Sending soldiers after school children and leaders of tomorrow shows what future we anticipate; for the teeming population of young men and women who have taken to the streets to protest against a system that buries their dreams; and also shatter their potentials and aspirations.
“Nigerian authorities said on Saturday that soldiers will be deployed this week; to bring an end to the weeklong demonstration over police brutality.
“We urge President Mohammadu Buhari not to use soldiers to quell a peaceful, civil protest.
“The protesters have been lawful. The few cases of violence were associated with armed thugs disrupting the protests; also coupled with the shooting of protesters by security operatives.”