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Journalists, lawyers Ooni flay killing of protesters

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Oba Enitan Ogunwusi


Soldiers reportedly shoot, seize ‘Gani Pikin’
Coalition slams Lagos govt, urge withdrawal of soldiers

Crime Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CCAN) has condemned the killing of peaceful demonstrators in Abuja.
CCAN Chairman, Hassan Zaggi, yesterday, expressed the association’s concern over the wasting of young, promising Nigerians unnecessarily.

While commending the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, for the steps taken so far to manage the situation, the newsmen called for more discreet and professional handling of the recent turn of events.

Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, also condemned the killings at the Lekki Tollgate by security agents.

The Chairman, Dr. Qasim Akinreti, in a statement yesterday, condoled with the families of the victims. He prayed for the repose of souls of the dead and wished those in the hospital quick recovery.

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ALSO the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has declared the killing at Lekki toll plaza, Lagos State, by the military on Tuesday as reckless and lawless.

In a statement signed by its president, Olumide Akpata, the barristers stated that even if the protesters were in breach of the curfew imposed by Lagos government, it did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the military to confront peaceful, unarmed and defenceless protesters.

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has described the killing of young protesters in Lagos and other parts of the country as highly disheartening and regrettable.

The monarch made this known in a statement signed by the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, Moses Olafare, yesterday.

He announced plans by traditional rulers in the country to immediately mediate between the Federal Government and organisers of the #EndSARS movement.

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DURING the shooting on Tuesday, the coordinator of Patriotically United Nigerians In Suffering and Hardship (PUNISH), Emmanuel Okereke, alias Gani Pikin, has reportedly been shot and whisked away by soldiers.

Legal Adviser of PUNISH, Jennifer Sochima, told our reporter yester that the soldiers, who shot Okereke, chased them to the hospital where they were taking the wounded to and snatched the body from them.

She added that they had searched all military formations for their leader, to no avail.
IN the same vein, the Action Group on Free Civic Space expressed dismay over the murder of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos State, on Tuesday night by soldiers.

The coalition of over 80 civil society groups urged the authorities to withdraw the soldiers from the streets and listen to the agitation of the youths.

Signatures to the statement made available to The Guardian yesterday include Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri of Spaces For Change (S4C), Ngozi Iwere of Community Life Project, Fyneface Dumnamene of Youth and Environmental Advocacy Centre, Samuel Akpologun of Ace and Vanguard Legal Practitioners, and Ngozi Nwosu Vision of Springs Initiative.

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Tuesday night’s shooting spree and subsequent reprisal, which reportedly started even before the curfew declared by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, claimed many lives and properties.

Reports had it that government officials were directed to disconnect the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras covering the area before the attack on the protesters by security operatives.

“We make bold to state that the Lagos State Government has failed in its obligation to protect the lives and properties of citizens. We regard the taking away of the CCTV cameras at the Lekki tollgate before the shootings as evidence of a premeditated attempt to use extreme force to quell the protests and inflict grievous bodily harm on protesters. This is a sad proof of a closed civic space in Nigeria,” the coalition stated.

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was established in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other violent crimes, but officers of the police unit turned against successful and flambouyant young Nigerians.

Vandefan Tersugh, a former SARS commander, had announced on national television that “it raises suspicion for a young Nigerian to have a car worth N7 million.”

This and attendant arrests, detention and killing of upwardly mobile youths sparked off protests against police brutality and bad governance tagged EndSARS. The anger spread from online assemblies trending the #EndSARS hashtag to offline demonstrations on the streets across the states.

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However, few youths, reportedly backed by the powers-that-be, staged counter-protests, turning the once peaceful march to violent demonstrations.

The coalition added: “For the first time ever, the countrywide protestations against systemic dysfunction were purely youth-led and citizen-led, without any arrowheads. Also, protest venues were characterised by solid arrangements for food, water, private security, non-stop entertainment, sanitation and standby medics.”

According to the group, the right to protest, a concomitant of the freedom of expression, is guaranteed under Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution. “Nigeria must obey its own laws, and uphold the civic freedoms enshrined in its own constitution,” it added.

Other signatories of the document include Chinwe Onyeukwu of Women Africa, Emmanuel Acha of Entrepreneurship Initiative for African Youth (EIFAY), Ogechi Ekeh of Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), Juliet Okeiyi of Open Arms Initiative for Sustainable Development, and Okechukwu Nwanguma of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).

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