A coalition of labour and civil society groups, Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against deploying soldiers to disperse the #EndSARS protesters from the streets.
The group led by human rights activist, Femi Falana, also vowed to drag the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague if any of the #EndSARs protesters were killed by any soldiers.
Protests tagged #EndSARS protesting police brutality and calling for the reformation of the police have rocked major cities in the country for some days.
The statement signed by Falana ASCAB chairman is titled, ‘#EndSARS: Kill protesters, face International Criminal Court, ASCAB cautions Buratai’.
Recall that the Nigerian Army said it would commence Exercise Crocodile Smile VI from October 20 to December 31, as part of its effort to enhance the safety and security of the country.
But Falana, in the statement, warned, “Buhari should not invite soldiers to resolve a purely democratic issue that calls for dialogue and constructive engagement.”
ASCAB noted that protests have common features across the world as seen in Hong Kong, United States, France, South Africa, Belarus and even in Sudan.
It added that in no instance were soldiers deployed to suppress the protesters.
“Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history,” the group said.
It reminded the Federal Government that Operation Crocodile Smile had been declared illegal by a Nigerian Court with competent jurisdiction following legal actions filed by Falana.
It added that efforts by the Chief of Army Staff to challenge the order by approaching the Court of Appeal met a brick wall.
ASCAB recalled that the Federal High Court in July this year, granted a perpetual injunction restraining the Army from such an exercise, in Femi Falana SAN v Chief of Army Staff (FHV/L/CS/1939/19
The group said it was already monitoring and compiling lists of all extra-judicial killings associated with the protests and that Buratai or any soldier involved in any killings would be held personally responsible at the international court.
ASCAB said peaceful protests remained the only way Nigerians are entitled under the Nigerian constitution to register their grievances against a system that suffocates them.
The statement further read, “The plan to deploy soldiers is dangerous.
“It will push Nigeria into the red light district of global reckoning.
“Sending soldiers after school children and leaders of tomorrow shows what future we anticipate for the teeming population of young men and women who have taken to the streets to protest against a system that buries their dreams and shatter their potentials and aspirations.
“Nigerian authorities said on Saturday that soldiers will be deployed this week to bring an end to the weeklong demonstration over police brutality.
“We urge President Mohammadu Buhari not to use soldiers to quell a peaceful, civil protest.
“The protesters have been lawful. The few cases of violence were associated with armed thugs disrupting the protests coupled with the shooting of protesters by security operatives.”
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