Following Tuesday’s shooting by security operatives at protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State which left many people injured and a yet to be confirmed number dead, a group of lawmakers has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.
The group of legislators from both houses of the National Assembly said they were appalled by the use of “force, intimidation and manipulation by (the) government and security agencies” to disperse peaceful protesters.
“We demand that the perpetrators of this dastardly act and all those who gave the orders should be brought to account in a transparent and accountable manner,” they said in a joint release on Wednesday.
“We ask the President to immediately identify all the officers involved and prosecute them for murder.”
Young Nigerians for the past two weeks had been on the street, protesting against police brutality which many have been victims of, especially at the hands of the now-banned special anti-robbery squad, SARS.
The past week has, however, seen hoodlums disrupting the processions of the protesters, and in many instances causing mayhem and destroying properties.
As a result, some governors declared curfew in their states, including Lagos, whose governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced around noon that the statewide curfew would start by 4 p.m., in a state that has about 18 million people and some of the world’s worst traffic jams. The governor later announced the extension of the curfew time to 9 p.m.
Despite the governor’s announcement, a horde of protesters simply remained at one of the protest grounds in Lekki, an upscale suburb of the state.
But the scene turned awry as some officials of the army opened fire on the protesters who sang the national athem and hoisted the nation’s flag, footages shared by witnesses showed.
Although the army denied the shooting, Mr Sanwo-Olu admitted on Wednesday that there were attacks and he shared pictures of those injured by bullets. The governor, however, said no one died from the attack.
Still, the shootings continued till Wednesday, eyewitnesses said.
Call for justice
The coalition of lawmakers, in their joint statement, called on President Buhari to order all security agencies to stop shooting at protesters
“We are enraged by reports of shooting of unarmed, defenceless protesters by military officers at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos after the lights were turned off and CCTV cameras put off,” they wrote.
“We condemn this action by government and security agencies. This is inexcusable and totally unacceptable. There is no justification whatsoever for security officials who are paid with tax payers’ money to kill unarmed protesters.
“We recognise that over the years, socio-economic indicators in Nigeria have remained precarious. The fragile states index has consistently classified Nigeria among the 15 worst states that are failing across the world.
“We call on the President to address the nation and take concrete actions to respond to the demand of the protesters. He should commit in words and action to respect and protect the right to protest. He should publicly invite the leaders of the protesters to an urgent dialogue while assuring them of their safety and that outcomes would be expeditiously implemented.”
They also condemned the attacks and burning of properties belonging to citizens and the government.
“We call on the government to respond expeditiously to demands of the protesters and other lingering issues of addressing the security architecture of the country and addressing revelations of corruption in many government agencies,” the statement read.
Signatories to the joint statement include senators Olu Adetunmbi, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Tolu Odebiyi and Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru.
Others are members of the House of Representatives: Julius Ihonvbere, Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, Francis Waive, Peter Akpatason, Umeoji Chukwuma, Kingsley Chinda, Abubakar Hassan Nalaraba, Francis Ottah Agbo, Unyime Idem, Omowumi Olubunmi Ogunlola, Ibrahim Kunle Olarewaju, Segius Ogun, Preye Oseke, Ibrahim Obanikoro, Ifeanyi Chudy Momah.
The rest are Bamidele Salam, Dennis Idahosa, Nnolim Nnaji, Benjamin Bem Mzondu, Timehin Adelegbe, Taiwo Olukemi Oluga, Ben Kalu, Amos Magaji, Olododo Cook Abdulganiyu Saka, Igariwey Iduma Enwo, Olubukola Oyewo, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe Oluyole, Uzoma Nkem Abonta, Satomi Ahmed, Wole Oke, Miriam Onuoha.