The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have been asked to open an international inquiry into the killing of #EndSARS protesters on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos.
This follows a petition delivered to the two bodies by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA). The group who decried the shrinking civic space in the country said it approached the ICC and UN to unravel the events of the Lekki shootings which have continued to create endless controversies in the country as claims and counter-claims dominate the public space.
According to CAPPA, the petition attracted signatures of 10,027 individuals and 154 organizations from 75 countries. Among the signatories are two former UN special rapporteurs, several members of the United States Congress, and Cornell and Harvard University professors. A dozen notable international figures also voiced their solidarity with the movement for justice in Nigeria.
CAPPA said it started gathering signatures for the petition on October 23 following what it anticipates would be “unlikely outcomes” of the judicial panels set up to look into the cases of rights abuses linked to SARS and government’s initiatives supposedly targeted at addressing the corruption in the system.
Briefing journalists on the petition in Lagos, Friday, Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi explained that events after the October 20 shootings have been most disturbing with daily reports of police arresting identified protesters from their homes, denying them access to their families and lawyers, and prominent supporters of the protests denied their right to travel out of the country by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) based on supposed instructions “from above”.
Oluwafemi decried the censorship of media organizations alleged to have reported the protests in a manner deemed unfavourable by the government and the subsequent censorship of Arise Tv, Africa Independent Television and Channels TV by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The NBC had on October 26 slammed a fine of N3 million on the three broadcast stations after describing their reports as “unprofessional”. He said it was also curious that the obnoxious Social Media Bill which was widely debated in the 8th National Assembly and criticized by Nigerians was resurrected in the Senate by lawmakers who have spoken openly against the #EndSARS protests.
He also frowned at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for further intimidation of the #EndSARS protesters after obtaining an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze 20 of accounts of #EndSARS protesters domiciled in Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa, and Zenith Bank.
“These happenings are most unacceptable. Suddenly Nigerians are waking up to the reality that the civic space is shrinking. While the Federal Government claims it is waving the olive branch with left hand, it is using the right hand to muzzle the right to free speech and peaceful protests which is a right of every Nigerian guaranteed by the Constitution”.