CAPPA was reacting to the Lekki toll gate shootings on Tuesday October 20, 2020 and similar incidents across the country that led to yet to be ascertained number of deaths.
It condemned the situation, stressing that it was deplorable and required urgent intervention.
CAPPA, via its spokesman, Mr. Philip Jakpor, lamented: “The disturbing images of military men mowing down peaceful and harmless #EndSARS protesters is totally uncivil and unacceptable. Perpetrators of this premeditated murder must be identified and brought to book”.
Contributing, the CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “We are still in shock and deeply saddened that the Nigerian government decided to draft trigger-happy soldiers to forcefully suppress youths waving Nigerian flags and demanding reforms that would be beneficial to all Nigerians, including the soldiers themselves.”
Oluwafemi pointed out that with ample evidence from the live feed from the scene of the mayhem, Nigerians have every reason to doubt government sincerity in addressing the situation, even as he added that since the protesters in Lekki had been converging they have been very civil and organised in their occupation of the toll gate hence the attacks were totally unwarranted.
“Instead of the carnage they unleashed on peaceful and harmless youths, we would have expected the government to look instead into allegations backed by audio visuals, of thugs working side by side their own security forces to portray the #EndSARS protests as violent and politically-motivated”.
The CAPPA boss was particularly piqued by the fact that those who rode to power on the mantra of protests permitted under a democracy now urge the use of extreme force to dissuade peaceful protesters.
He frowned at Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s denial of deaths in his public broadcast in the early hours of Wednesday, cautioning that attempts to deceive Nigerians was capable of further incensing the already bitter public, especially those who have lost their loved ones in the last one week, and casting doubts about anything meaningful coming out from the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the state government.
He reminded the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government that the right to protest, which accompanies freedom of expression was guaranteed under section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution hence the government was counteracting the laws it was supposed to guard.
“The present administration at the centre and government at all levels must not only obey the laws, they must also uphold the civic freedoms enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. They must show seriousness by honouring the legitimate demands of the #EndSARS protesters which are in perfect sitting with what Nigerians have over the years been demanding.
“The gruesome murder of protesters that we have seen, read and heard in the news and social media is totally unacceptable. We urge the entire human rights community to resist attempts to instil fear in Nigerians using tactics that only happened in the military era. We demand a probe of the entire incident and it must be international in nature because the Nigerians system has been compromised”, he insisted.
Recall that Nigerian youths had been carrying out peaceful protests, calling for the disbanding of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police (SARS) for their high-handedness and extrajudicial killings across the country since October 8, 2020.
The protests spread from Lagos to Oyo, Osun, Edo, Ekiti, Abuja, Kaduna, Plateau, and other states of the federation.
But the Lekki incident followed the imposition of a curfew on Lagos and the state governments alleged invitation of the military to chase the protesters from the Lekki Toll Gate grounds which they had occupied for days.
Social media accounts and videos making the rounds indicated that the armed soldiers stormed the venue around 7pm on Tuesday, hemmed the protesters in and started shooting sporadically, killing no less than seven persons, according to initial press reports though new facts show the numbers may be far higher.
Some accounts say the soldiers went away with many of the dead and prevented ambulances from conveying the injured to hospitals.
The attacks, were allegedly preceded by the removal of the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) at the Toll Gate, and the switching off of the lights in the vicinity by unknown persons.
By Valentine Amanze, Online Editor