- demand the release of EndSARS protesters from police net
The renewed EndSARS protest in Nigeria has attracted a number of foreign activists.
A number of activists who have supported the America Black Lives Matter protest have written to the government of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari asking him to give justice to the the protesters attacked by the Nigerian police during the protest.
Police had arrested and jailed many EndSARS protesters in the October 19 protests that led to the brutal killing of protesters at the Lekki axis of Lagos State.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, Co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Opal Tometi, America singer and actress, Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington and 62 others have signed an open letter to Mr Buhari.
The activists are asking the President to lift the ban on peaceful demonstration and “allow Nigerians to exercise their constitutional rights to protest.”
The letter also demand Buhari to release jail protesters and journalists, unfreeze protesters bank accounts and return their confisticated passports and government IDs.
The Letter which was published on the advertorial section on the New York Times on Thursday to coincide with International Human Rights Day reads “In the midst of a global pandemic, your people sought to bring peace and justice to their land, and they made Africa and its diaspora proud in doing so
“Yet their peaceful requests were met with state-sanctioned violence and suppression, as your administration meted out unwarranted force against its own citizens.”
Thousands of Nigerians stormed the street across the country in October demanding the disbandment of the country’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and police injustice.
The #ENDSARS campaign started on Twitter after a SARS officer shot an unharmed Nigerian in Ughelli, the Southern part of the country and drove away in his SUV.
The Unit which was formed in 1992 to battle major crime – armed robbery and was given unimaginable powers.
Nigerians have compalined on several occasions due to the inhuman treatment they receive from the Unit. SARS agents can arrest a Nigerian because of a tattoo, Afro hair, new mobile phone, and “looking fresh”.
Nigerians accused the Force of perpetrating the crime in which they were set up to fight.
After days of endless protest, on October 11, the Inspector General of Police announced that SARS would be dissolved and its officers retrained and redeployed
In an attempt to stop a repeat, the Nigeria government through the Central Bank obtained a 90-day court order to freeze the bank accounts of those who participated in the protest.
Journalists and the protesters wree arrested and detained for five days, their International passports and government IDs were also confistigated.
The Killing of some of the protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on October 20 attracted angers and criticism from international communities.
The Cable News Network (CNN) covered the story on November 11 after reviewing government CCTV and talking to families who lost their loved ones in the protest.
The CCTV which showered soldiers shooting live ammunition into the crowd of protesters was later denied by the country top’s government official, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who accused CNN of bias reportage.
Lai Mohammed added that CNN should be sanctioned for misinformation and irresponsible reporting, just as he maintained that the military fired blank bullets into the air and not at the crowd.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization,” he told reporters at a press conference in Abuja, in the most significant federal government response so far to the October 20 violence.
“I believe that CNN itself has internal mechanisms to discipline erring staff, but on our own part also we would do the needful. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that,” he said.
In the letter addressed to Nigeria government by the foreign activists, the group is demanding that those responsible for the shooting should be held accountable and a “transparent” and an “independent” investigation must be carried out to determine what happened.
“As people who have supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and throughout the diaspora, we cannot be silent when similar atrocities take place in African countries,” the letter added, concluding that Nigerians and Africa “deserve better.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria army has continued to deny its alleged involvement in the fatal shooting at Lekki toll gate, claiming CNN reports was a “fake news” and an attempt to blackmail the military.
Later, the government backtracked, this time, admitting the solders were present but fired their weapons in the air using blank and live rounds.
Mr Buhari took to his twitter handle on Wednesday to complain that the foreign press who covered the #ENDSARS protest were biased.
The government said it has set up an eight-person judicial panel to look into police brutality and the alleged killing at the Lekki toll gate.