Youth group wants human rights commission to investigate killing of protesters

Chidi Odinkalu, Chair, National Human Rights Commission

The National Youth Alliance Against the Removal of Fuel Subsidy took an official letter of complaint to Chidi Odinkalu, Executive Secretary of NHRC on Friday in Abuja asking him to launch an immediate investigation into the killings.

The group also asked the NHRC to “perform its mandate of protecting human rights by prevailing on security agencies to desist from any further arrest, intimidation, unlawful detention, and killing of innocent citizens”.

Speaking on the killings, Sunday Ogidigbo, a member of the group, condemned the action of the Nigerian security forces in turning against peaceful protesters.

“Some time ago when the current president was denied access to power by the cabal, well-meaning Nigerians took to the streets in protest,” Mr. Ogidigbo said. “At that time, the security forces all supported the protesters. Now, to think that the president can now turn against the same protesters that put him in power, that is sheer hypocrisy. President Jonathan’s government has betrayed the people.”

Speaking also on the action of Nigerian security forces, Martin Obono, who presented the letter to the NHRC, said it was against the Nigerian constitution for the security forces to use force against peaceful protesters.

“The killing of protesters is a violation of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution. The rights of citizens to protest should be protected. The rules of engagement by security agencies should be clearly spelt out,” he said. Mr. Obono was arrested by security operatives in Abuja on Tuesday during the protests at Eagle Square. He was released the following day alongside Eze Nwage, another protestant.

The NHRC boss said he was delighted with the action of the group and promised to act on their petition.

“The one thing I can guarantee is that the commission will investigate the killings in accordance with our mandate,” Mr. Odinkalu said. “I feel very sad to hear of a 19 young old man lying dead on the streets. Anybody who is not pained by that must have something wrong with him.”

The group moved on from the NHRC office in Maitama to the Federal Secretariat where other protesters against the removal of fuel subsidy were gathered.

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