Human RightsNews

#EndSARS Survivors Sue Nigerian Government At ECOWAS Court

"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."

Three survivors of the Oct. 20, 2020 shootings at Lekki  Toll Gate, the epicenter of #EndSARS protests in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, have filed an action before the ECOWAS Court.  

The survivors who asked to remain anonymous because of victimisation are seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights. 

They told the court that they are suffering untold psychological trauma and threat to life, from the day of the shootings.  

Bolaji Gabari Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Gaye Sowe, and Nelson Olanipekun who are lawyers to the three applicants briefed HumAngle about the development in a joint statement on Thursday, Oct. 21.  

“The applicants seek among others, the declaration that the Nigerian State has violated her obligations under the Nigerian Constitution, 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,” part of the statement read.  

“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.” 

“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. Young people 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 is 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. “

The lawyers also said “the online and offline attacks on human rights defenders, the arrests and illegal detention of protesters, the deregistration of organisations and blanket tag of terrorism on bank accounts belonging to protesters, etc. were some tactics the government and its agencies employed, presumably to silence the dissenting voices. 

“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. Given this 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 were involved in the rights abuses that led to the #EndSARS protests and its aftermath,” the lawyers said.

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.”

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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