Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday condemned the killing of peaceful #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
The NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata, stated in a statement asked the Nigerian Army to immediately identify the soldiers who carried out the attack and dismiss them from service.
He also said the association would immediately commence legal actions against the Nigerian government and the Army at both international and local fora.
He said the suits would be initiated by the NBA on behalf of the families of the victims, “for abuse of power, disregard of rules of engagement and the infringement of the fundamental rights (including right to life) of the affected citizens”.
He stated in the statement titled, ‘Nigerian Bar Association condemns the killing of peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Lagos by the Nigerian military’, the protesters’ act of misdemeanor of a breach of the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Government “did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the Nigerian military to confront otherwise peaceful, unarmed and defenseless protesters”.
The statement read in part, “The attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has been drawn to the dastardly shooting and killing of #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos State by some unidentified men of the Nigerian Military on Tuesday, 20th October 2020. From news reports on the incident, many lives were lost in the attack while several others were injured during the melee that ensued. The NBA strongly condemns this act of recklessness and lawlessness by the security apparatus of the Government in what, based on reports available to us, appears to have been a carefully calculated and premeditated attack.
“The NBA states that even if the protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza were in breach of the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Government, such a misdemeanor or breach did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the Nigerian military to confront otherwise peaceful, unarmed and defenseless protesters. To be clear, the events of today are events that we should never see or consider as normal in any democracy. Against the backdrop of this ugly development, the NBA wishes to state as follows:
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“The military high command is hereby requested to immediately identify and name the officers involved in this gross professional misconduct for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws.
“The NBA shall immediately commence legal proceedings at all relevant fora (both locally and internationally) against the Nigerian Military and other relevant authorities, on behalf of the families of the victims, for abuse of power, disregard of rules of engagement and the infringement of the fundamental rights (including right to life) of the affected citizens.
” Given the degenerating nature of the crisis, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (the highest decision-making body of the NBA) will be convened within the next 48 hours to review the state of the Nation and take other appropriate steps to decisively deal with the situation and prevent the nation from further going adrift.”
Akpata said the current situation in the country “calls for dynamic leadership and, as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project”, calling on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and others in authority “to show uncommon leadership in saving the situation, instead of deploying troops against defenseless citizens whom they swore an oath to protect.”