Counselor Ulrich Brechbühl and other delegates of the U.S. government met with Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday in Abuja.
Although the meeting was part of a previously scheduled one, it discussed the ongoing crisis across Nigeria escalated by the shooting of unarmed protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate, Lagos State.
At least two people have been confirmed dead from the Lekki shooting with many more injured.
Despite the casualties recorded, President Muhammadu Buhari was silent about the Lekki shooting in his broadcast of Thursday night. The president did not also condemn the attack on other peaceful protesters by security officials but decried the violence that resulted from such attacks including the killing of police officers and damage to public buildings. The president also promised police reforms, which is the major demand of protesters.
According to a statement by a U.S. State Department, at the meeting with Mr Osinbajo, the U.S. delegation raised concerns about ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons. The meeting was also to hear from senior Nigerian government officials about how they are addressing those issues.
“The Counselor expressed the U.S. condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos. He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”
Mr Osinbajo and the counselor noted that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles, the official said.
Counselor Brechbühl and Vice President Osinbajo emphasized the importance of U.S. and Nigerian collaboration on common goals of improving security cooperation and strengthening economic partnership to foster mutual prosperity, Mr Ortagus said.
The U.S. delegation included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.