The Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a coalition of 70 labour and civil society organisations (CSOs), says Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, risks facing the International Criminal Court (ICC) if any of the #ENDSARs protesters is killed.
On Saturday, the Nigerian Army announced its plan to kick off “Operation Crocodile Smile” amid the ongoing protests.
But in a statement, the group urged the federal government to withdraw the “plan to use soldiers” to quell the demonstrations.
Femi Falana, its chairman, said protests have common features across the world as seen in Hong Kong, United States, France, South Africa, and even in Sudan.
He said peaceful protests are the only way Nigerians are entitled to register their grievances against a system that suffocates them.
“Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history,” the statement read.
“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 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 Muhammadu 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.”
He said the group is already monitoring and compiling lists of all rights extra-judicial killings associated with the protests and that Buratai and the soldiers involved in any killings will be held responsible at the international court.
“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 statement read.
“Over N250bn 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 called on the authorities to speed up the implementation of “the much-touted reforms” and prosecute police and military personnel indicted in rights abuses.
It also urged protesters to come forward for free legal relief services.