The Security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of Government
– Section 14(2)(b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
PRESS RELEASE: USE OF LETHAL FORCE ON #ENDSARS PROTESTERS
Global Rights condemns in its entirety the use of lethal force by law enforcement agents on #ENDSARS protesters in Lagos state. The extrajudicial killing of unarmed protesters who were singing the national anthem cannot be justified under any circumstance and such an atrocious violation of the rights of citizens must not go unpunished.
Several credible reports which we received, and evidence available in the public domain, shows that soldiers of the Nigerian army were deployed to unarmed #ENDSARS protesters who were situated at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on the 20th of October, 2020. The preponderance of evidence available clearly documents that they subsequently applied excessive use of force, including shooting live ammunitions at these unarmed and peaceful demonstrators.
Many reports have also revealed that leading up to the massacre of protesters by the army in Lagos, persons having access to the tools of the state, sponsored armed groups to foment violence across the country in order to discredit the otherwise peaceful #EndSARS protests, while state security agents stood by and in some instances facilitated their actions.
We totally condemn these unjustifiable extrajudicial killings of peaceful protesters by law enforcement agents whose primary duty is to protect the lives of citizens; and the acquiescence of the state in the facilitation of organized criminal groups.
Nigeria is a democratic country that thrives on the supremacy of its constitution. In our constitution is embedded the principles that guarantee the fundamental human rights of all its citizens to life, the dignity of the human person, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom to peacefully assemble as well as the obligation of the government to protect and preserve the life of its citizens under S, 33, 34, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution. These rights are further protected under the various international laws of which Nigeria is a state party to such as the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Nigerian government is mandated under customary and conventional international human rights law, to ensure that its law enforcement agencies and officials respect and protect the right to life. International standards provide that law enforcement may only intentionally employ the lethal use of firearms when strictly unavoidable in order to protect lives. The events that led to the premeditated and extrajudicial killing of unarmed citizens exercising their rights on the evening of October 20, 2020, do not fall within this context.
We therefore call on the Nigerian government to immediately initiate an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the activities of the law enforcement agents present at the Lekki Tollgate protest ground to ensure that every perpetrator of this dastardly act is prosecuted without delay.