AMNESTY International has called on the Nigerian authorities to put words into action and decisively end Police impunity and ensure that the rights of Nigerians to peaceful protests as guaranteed by the constitution are protected.
Speaking on the occasion of the #EndSARS Memorial on Wednesday, Country Director of the organisation Osai Ojigho said an independent investigation by the organisation found that the Nigerian Army and Police killed at least 12 people on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate and Alausa in Lagos.
“Amnesty International was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the Police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.
“The organisation also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers. In many cases, Police abuse continued in detention, in Police stations and other holding facilities, and on the way to detention, in Police vehicles,” Ojigho stated.
A year after the #EndSARS protest, members of the security forces found culpable of human rights violations are yet to be prosecuted, while judicial panels of inquiry set up to investigate abuses by officers have made little progress.
Amnesty International has urged the Nigerian government to thoroughly, independently, impartially, and transparently investigate suspected perpetrators of human rights violations in the country and bring them to justice.
“Failure to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the torture and killings of #EndSARS protesters on 20 October 2020 is yet another indication that Nigerian authorities lack the political will to ensure accountability for these atrocities, and end police brutality,” the organisation said.
Similarly, a Nigerian entertainer DJ Switch, who gained prominence after doing a live video of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting last October, has called out the Nigerian Minister for Information Lai Mohammed for discrediting the real-time information disseminated from the toll gate scene on the night of October 20, 2020.
Speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a series of global conferences run by the New York-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation under the slogan ‘Challenging Power,’ DJ Switch stated: “Our leaders are afraid; it is as simple as that. They are afraid of a thinking, innovative and collaborative working Nigeria. They are afraid of every young Nigerian who, against all odds, have made it for themselves.”
Referencing Nigeria’s music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s 1977 hit song, Zombie, where he likened the Nigerian Army to zombies, she said the song was relevant today, as it was 44 years ago.
The entertainer, who recently relocated out of the country and has remained a strong voice against Police brutality, added: “we stand up to our oppressors, starting with the Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.”
Despite the indefinite ban on Twitter in Nigeria, Nigerians within the country and in the diaspora, as well as other nationalities sympathetic the #EndSARS campaign which rode on the back of the global Black Lives Matter movement, have constituted a ‘netizen’ and launched a 20-day #EndSARS activism to commemorate the event of 20th October, 2020.
Various discourses are expected to be held, aimed at calling attention to the implementation of the five priority demands – the immediate release of all arrested protesters, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality, investigation and prosecution of all reported cases of police misconduct, psychological evaluation and retraining of all disbanded SARS officers by an independent body, and better salary and welfare for police officers.