A Coalition of Human Right Group is calling on the military to immediately withdraw its ill-advised attempt to undermine the constitutional freedom of citizens to voice their displeasure about the state of the country, regarding the #ENDSARS protest.
The group in a statement signed by all members of the coalition, reject in its entirety the move to draft in the military to quell the protests, even where there has been no violent conduct on the part of protesters.
“The Military should remain in their barracks and at their duty posts, defending the territorial integrity of the country, and not deployed in a dangerous anti-people and anti-democratic operation to crush a people who are exercising their right to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”
“The ongoing protests to end police brutality and compel sorely needed reform of the police and policing, is thus a legitimate movement, raising legitimate concerns, making legitimate demands, and as such because the movement is exercising universally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed rights, the movement must be protected, and not repressed.”
According to the Coalition, the practice of dehumanizing citizens and stripping them of their dignity, which has become ingrained in the security and defence sectors, is a manifestation of the institutional decay and systemic crisis of governance, and is a measure of the failure of political leadership by Nigeria’s ruling class.
” #EndSARS protest is focused on the immediate concern of a brutish policing system, the protesters are also inherently voicing their anger against a governance system, which has failed to reckon with them. #EndSARS is, therefore, an affirmation of citizen’s readiness to resist bad governance in all its ramifications beginning with inadequate government response over the prolonged trend of police brutality. “
“The accumulated anger of citizens over decades of failure in the delivery of basic social services, endemic corruption, and impunity of political office holders has precipitated distrust of, and lack of confidence in the state and its institutions. These frustrations are visible in the pent-up anger, which has been boiling over in mass street protests in cities across the country.”
The Coalition is therefore joining the youths of Nigeria to demand for accountability for previous, current, and ongoing acts of the brutalization of citizens from the government and its agencies.
” Offending officers must be identified, investigated, prosecuted, and punished.
A mechanism should be put in place to identify all previous and current victims of police brutality, to ensure that they get justice, including compensations.”
” All those arrested during the ongoing protest be released unconditionally. The President should constitute and summon an emergency and inaugural meeting of the Nigeria Police Council [NPC] provided for in the 1999 CFRN [as amended], in section 216, and whose composition and functions were clearly stated in Part III [Supplemental and interpretation], sections 27 & 28 of the same constitution.”
They are also demanding that the government should move beyond cosmetic approaches in responding to the yearnings of protesting citizens.
“Building confidence would involve moving speedily to implement key first steps, including the expeditious public trial of police officers who have been accused with evidence and are found to have perpetrated crimes, including extra-judicial killings, against the Nigerian people.”
“The representatives of the protesting youths among others, be constituted to oversee the implementation, and undertake monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the Police Act 2020, as the basis for undertaking the institutional and systemic reforms that are urgently needed.”