By Adebisi Onanuga
Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Tukur Buratai or any of his men risk facing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague if any of the #EndSARS protesters is killed, activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has said.
Falana urged the Federal Government to withdraw plans to use soldiers to quell the protests that have rocked major cities across Nigeria.
Falana, in a statement as the Chairman of the Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), urged President Mohammadu Buhari not to invite soldiers to resolve a purely democratic issue that calls for dialogue and constructive engagement.
ASCAB said protests have common features across the world as seen in Honh Kong, United States, (US), France, South Africa, Belarus and even in Sudan adding that in no instance has soldiers being deployed to suppress the protesters. “Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history,” the group said.
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ASCAB said: “It is unfortunate that the Nigerian government is sending a signal to the military that it has a role to play in a purely civil matter.
“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.
“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.
“The political class is isolating Nigerians from governance. State resources are squandered by a few, corrupt people who over the years have failed to address institutional rot that continues to fuel anger and desperation of the toiling people.”
The group said at the bottom of the crisis of nation building and insecurity in Nigeria is corruption, mismanagement of public funds and incompetence at all levels of governance.
The group said: “Over N250b is voted as security vote for the 36 state governors annually. This money is enough to retrain and reenergize the police towards effective performance. Unfortunately, the funds are taken by the State Governors as largesse which they never account for.”
ASCAB urged the police authorities to bring to justice all officers and ratings associated with human rights violations in the command.
The group said policing in Nigeria needs transformation and not mere reforms which should go beyond a cosmetic and window dressing approach.
ASCAB said it has confirmed that the reports of allegations of extrajudicial killings, extortion of members of the public and other atrocities perpetrated by the police and other security agencies in Nigeria have been ignored by the authorities.
It said two Panels of Enquiry instituted by the President in 2018 to probe rights abuses have not been published till now. “Petitions submitted to the Police Authorities were ignored. National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC) probe of SARS excesses were ignored. “Amnesty International Abuja office was invaded by sponsored thugs for raising issues of rights abuses. United Nations directed the Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard to probe rights abuses.
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