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#EndSARS report: SERAP sues Buhari, seeks arrest of indicted soldiers, policemen

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ANALYSIS.... LEKKI SHOOTING: Deconstructing a pattern of lies, impunity as govt trademark

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and other 116 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to ensure the arrest of soldiers and police officers indicted by the Lagos #EndSARS panel report.

This comes after the Lagos Judiciary Panel of Inquiry probing allegations of police brutality in Lagos State and the incident that happened at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, submitted its findings to the state government on November 15.

Controversies had followed the submitted report after the report which has not been officially released to the public by the state government leaked, confirming the widely claimed shooting of innocent protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, thereby indicting soldiers and police operatives.

However, the Nigerian government, even after the report leaked, has maintained that the claimed killing of innocent protesters which was confirmed by the panel was a “phantom massacre”.

In SERAP’s suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021 and filed last Friday, the organisation is also asking the court to compel President Buhari to bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, including adequate compensation.

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In the suit, SERAP argued: “It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for Nigerians’ rights, the rule of law, and public confidence in government institutions, as well as reduce the growing culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“The safety of protesters in Nigeria remains as precarious as ever, and impunity for crimes against them is growing. Impunity emboldens perpetrators. A failure to bring to justice those indicted for the shooting of peaceful protesters is, in itself, a violation of the rights to life and human dignity.

“The flagrant lack of accountability for past violations of the rights of protesters has given rise to a growing sense of powerlessness, and resentment not only among victims and their families but among the general public.

“The failure to promptly arrest, and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families amounts to a travesty of justice, as justice delayed is justice denied.”

Meanwhile, SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to ensure that those still being detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against them are dropped.

According to a statement made available to Ripples Nigeria on Sunday by SERAP, the suit filed on behalf of the organisation by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “The Buhari administration has the constitutional responsibility to allow victims of human rights violations to find out the truth in regard to acts committed, to know who the perpetrators of such acts are, and to obtain justice and adequate compensation.

“The right to life is an inherent, core, and non-derogable human right, regardless of the circumstances, and even in times of armed conflict or states of emergency. Summary, extrajudicial, or arbitrary executions are clearly prohibited under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and international law.

The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary, and Summary Executions affirm that ‘extra-legal, arbitrary, and summary executions’ cannot be carried out under any circumstances.

“According to the principles, ‘governments shall prohibit orders from superior officers or public authorities authorizing or inciting other persons to carry out any such extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions. All persons shall have the right and the duty to defy such orders.

“International law requires that the use of lethal force, such as firearms, is an ‘extreme measure’ that should only be considered when strictly necessary in order to protect life or prevent serious injury from an imminent threat.

“Articles 2(1) and 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party require State Parties to ‘undertake to respect and ensure’ and provide effective remedies for violations of the rights in the Covenant.”

Joined in the suit as Respondent is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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