26 October, 2020
Nigeria: Respect the freedom of assembly
Photo credit: Getty Images
The under-listed organisations in West Africa condemn the killings of the youth protesting against police brutality under the #ENDSARS movement in Nigeria.
It was reported that the incident happened late in the evening on the 20th October 2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate on Victoria Island, Lagos State. According to eyewitness account, the Military dressed in uniforms associated with the Nigeria Army arrived at the location around 6:45 pm in vehicles of Nigeria Army. We are of the view that this was a response to the military planned crocodile operation. The protesters mostly youth on sighting the Military ordered their members to sit on the floor holding themselves and waving the Nigerian Flags. The Protesters started singing the Nigerian National Anthem.
The account states that the patriotic youth were shot at, while sitting on the ground and reciting the national anthem. This shooting started at around 7 pm on 20th October 2020.
As at the time of this statement, it is unclear how many people have been killed, but it is alleged that they are in their tens. The ripple effect of this act has led to more deaths, arson and destruction of properties (affecting protesters and the police) in some parts of the country.
The Nigerian citizen has a legitimate right to protest under the Nigerian constitution and their Freedom of Expression and Association is enshrined under the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which is domestic law in Nigeria.
These alleged killings are a violation of the Rome Statute, The African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
This alleged act committed by the Nigeria Government is a violation of Rome Statute, Article 6 (a) (Killing members of a group), Article 7,1 (A, K) (Murder, Other inhuman acts), Article 7, 2 (a) (Attack directed against any civilian population), Article 8, 2(a(I))( Wilful killing) and Article 8,2 (b (i)) (Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population).
It is also a violation of Article (4) African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Article (4) (Respect of Right to life)
It violates the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), article 6(1) (This right (Right to life) shall be protected by law).
This loss of lives in the region is unnecessary, the Military shooting the youth was avoidable.
The underlisted organisations hereby call on:
1. The African Commission to investigate and make recommendations on these alleged killings
2. The Nigerian President to ensure that the Military is brought to justice for these alleged killings
3. The Lagos State Government (who has jurisdiction) should ensure that the incident is independently investigated
4. ECOWAS should continue to monitor the situation and support the Nigerian government to avoid repetition of the alleged incident of unlawful killings
5. The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa
initiate an investigative mission to Nigeria.
6. The Nigeria Human Rights Commission and other Civil Society Organisations should get justice for all victims of ENDSARS Campaign.
7. The Nigerian government should continue to protect its citizens and Nigerians should remain law abiding.
8. The Nigerian government should continue to prioritise the demands of the protesters.
List of Organisations:
1. Human Rights Development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC) (Regional/West Africa)
2. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) (Régional/West Africa)
3. Coalition Béninoise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains du Bénin (Benin Repulblic)
4. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (Burkina Faso)
5. Associação de Solidariedade e Promoção dos Direitos Humanos – Zé Moniz- (Cape Verde)
6. Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (Ivory Coast)
7. Network of Human Rights Journalists (NHRJ) (The Gambia)
8. Pos Foundation (Ghana)
9. Coalition Guinéenne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (Guinea)
10. Campaign for Human Rights and Development (CHRDI) (Sierra Leone)
11. ColigaçãodDas Organizações de Defesa dos Direitos da Criança na Guiné-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau)
12. Human Rights Defenders in Liberia-LICHRD (Liberia)
13. Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (Mali)
14. Campaign for Good Governance (Sierra Leone)
15. Forum des Organisations Nationales des Droits de l’Homme (Mauritania)
16. Réseau Nigérien des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (RNDDH) (Niger)
17. Partnership for Justice (Nigeria)
18. Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits de L’homme (Senegal)
19. Human Rights Defenders Network (Sierra Leone)
20. Centre de Documentation et de Formation sur les Droits de l’Homme (Togo)
21. Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) (Regional/Central Africa)
22. HEDA Resource Centre (Nigeria)
23. Regional Watch for Human Rights (Liberia)
24. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), The Gambia
25. One Family People (Sierra Leone)
26. Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (Togo)
27. Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CDHR) (Sierra Leone)
28. Centre for Citizen with Disabilities (CCD)(Nigeria)
29. Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) (Nigeria)
30. Lagos Civil Society Participation for Development (LACSOP) (Nigeria)
31. Campaign Against Impunity in Nigeria (Nigeria)
32. Media Rights Agenda (Nigeria)
33. Centre for Public Accountability (CPA) (Nigeria)
34. Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria)
35. Media Rights Concern (Nigeria)
36. Centre for Human and Soci0-Economic Rights (CHSR) (Nigeria)
37. Activists for Good Governance (Nigeria)
38. African Defenders (Pan African HRDs Network) (Africa)
Background: The #EndSARS protest started in October 2020 as a result of an act of Police Brutality, robbery and harassment of Citizens and several acts of Human Rights Violations being committed by the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS). The protest demanded the disbandment of SARS and for the Government to initiate Comprehensive police reforms. There have been protests all over the state in Nigeria especially from the youths in the country. Initially, as a result of the National outrage by Protesters, the Inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu announced the ban of the Anti –Robbery squad from operating on the roads. However, the citizens did not cease the protest because such directives had been made in the past without enforcement. The unlawful killing of citizens who were clearly protesting against the injustice of the SARS contravenes the Article 4 of the African Charter on Human Right ad people’s Right (ACHPR), violation of right to life, Articles 3, 8 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Right and section 33 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.