#EndSARS victims sue FG over rights abuses at ECOWAS Court
Some #Endsars survivors have filed an action against the Federal Government of Nigeria before the ECOWAS Court seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
The applicants claimed in the suit that they were victims of the military and police onslaught that took place during the protests on the 20th of October 2020 at Lekki Tollgate, Lagos and other parts of the country.
“Given the disregard for the rights of Nigerian people, we are commencing litigation against the Federal Government of Nigeria at the ECOWAS Court of Justice to seek redress for the victims and accountability against the Government who through her agents engaged in the rights abuses that led to the #EndSARS protests and its aftermaths.
“All of these constitute a gross violation of fundamental human rights guaranteed by Sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
“We will pursue our demands through the ECOWAS Court to ensure that the government of Nigeria is held to account for the killing of Nigerian citizens and the abuse of their rights as enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution, the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights and other International Human Rights instruments that Nigeria is a signatory to,” the applicants said in the suit.
The applicants claimed that they continued to suffer untold psychological and mental trauma in addition to threat to their lives, from the day of the protests to date.
They said that they approached the ECOWAS Court, known for its neutrality and adherence to international standards in adjudicating cases, to consider and hold that their rights and other peaceful protesters that have been grossly violated by the Nigerian State and its agencies.
The applicants seek amongst other reliefs, “the declaration that the Nigerian State has violated her obligations under the Nigerian Constitution.
“That International laws and most especially the African Charter; failed and fails to protect the lives of the applicants and citizens; protect its citizens from extrajudicial killings, police brutality and to promote and provide security for its citizens;
“That the State persistently tolerates and promotes a climate of impunity in the Country as a result of its systemic failure to condemn, effectively identify and secure accountability for a series of grave attacks against the applicants and people of Nigeria and failure to convict perpetrators of human rights violations in the years preceding the 20th and 21st of October 2020 Lekki Tollgate Shooting and till date.
“You will recall that a year ago, on October 20, 2020, a detachment of the Nigerian army and police officers reportedly shot at peaceful protesters, leaving several injured and others dead in Lekki and other parts of Lagos.
“This was at the height of the #EndSARS protests led by young Nigerians, in several cities, across the country to demand an end to years of police brutality, particularly from the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force.”
periscopeinternational.com recalls that the protesting youths had accused the SARS unit of being responsible for an unprecedented number of gross rights abuses that range from profiling people based on their material possessions or looks, illegal dispossession of their property, to outright extrajudicial murders and mock executions.
The call to end brutality and extrajudicial killings by the Police has been on since December 2017.
The 2020 protests were triggered by a SARS official’s killing of a young man on October 3, 2020, in front of Wetland Hotel, Ughelli, in Delta state. The youths trooped out in their numbers online and offline, demanding an end to SARS, a reform of the Nigerian Police Force, and a demand for good governance.
From the beginning of the peaceful protests on October 8th 2020, the protesters were consistently attacked and arrested by the Police and other security agents.
The Government also employed strategies to disrupt protests, including sowing division and resorting to intimidation and disinformation tactics, deploying military forces to sites of peaceful demonstrations as was evident in the Lekki shootings and attempts at social media regulation.
The police and the military fired live ammunition, deployed tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters.
Some people who were considered to be sponsors or leaders of the #EndSARS Movement have been profiled by Government authorities and had their bank accounts frozen, or their passports seized to prevent them from travelling out of the country.
Today, victims of police brutality are yet to be adequately compensated, and justice has yet to be served either for their families or on the perpetrators.
The online and offline attacks on human rights defenders, the arrest and illegal detention of protesters, the deregistration of organisations and blanket tag of terrorism on bank accounts belonging to protesters, etc, were some of the strong arm tactics the government and its agencies employed, presumably to silence the dissenting voices.