Richard Ginika Izuora
Amnesty International is mounting pressure to ensure those indicted for Killing harmless and unarmed protesting Nigerian youths during the night of the October 20, 2020 incident at the Lekki Toll Gate are prosecuted.
The global human rights watchdog was reacting to the findings of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses.
The panel, set up to investigate the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos on October 20, 2020; found that Nigerian Army troops and policemen deployed to the scene shot at and killed a number of protesters.
Amnesty held that it had vindicated its own investigation; which proved that the Nigerian Army indeed killed protesters at the scene.
“Amnesty International welcomes the panel’s report, which confirms that Nigerian army and police shot peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020,’’ said Osai Ojigho, Director, Amnesty International Nigeria.
‘‘The panel’s findings reveal the truth about what happened at Lekki toll gate and contradict the blatant denial by the Nigerian government that deadly force was used against peaceful #EndSARS protesters.
“A day after the crackdown, Amnesty International conducted its own on-the-ground investigation; which confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters in Lekki and Alausa; with evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports.
‘’A week later, Amnesty International was able to release a timeline of the shootings; which confirmed that Nigerian army vehicles left a military base a short drive from the toll gate on the evening of the shootings and were present when the killings began shortly after.
“For the survivors and relatives of the dead; the judicial panel report findings are only the first step towards justice and restitution.
”President Buhari must act promptly to ensure that those found to be responsible for shooting and attacks on peaceful protesters are brought to justice in fair trial. Nigerian authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies; including adequate compensation, restitution, and guarantee of non-repetition to victims and their families.
“Authorities must also immediately and unconditionally release all #EndSARS protesters unlawfully detained since last year.”
It said that it had been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the nationwide #EndSARS protests began last year; specifically around October 8, 2020.
On October 21, 2020, the organization released the findings of its on-the-ground investigation. On October 28, 2020, it published an investigative timeline of the shootings. Both confirmed the involvement of the Nigerian army and police; as well as the use of lethal force against people protesting against police impunity in Nigeria.
On October 3, 2020, a widely distributed video showed SARS officers dragging two men from a hotel; shooting one of them outside.
On October 11, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was disbanded; the fifth time since 2015 that the Nigerian authorities pledged to reform the police and disband SARS.
But protests continued, demanding concrete reforms. On October 20, the Nigerian army and police violently repressed peaceful protests; killing at least 12 people at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos, it stated.