Irked by the killing of protesters of #Endsars at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos on Tuesday evening, the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) has requested the high command of the Nigerian military to fish out the soldiers involved in the killing of the protesters for prosecution both locally and at the International Criminal Court.
Towards this, NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata has summoned an emergency meeting its National Executive Council (NEC), the highest decision making body of the association to meet within the next 48 hours.
Akpata in a press statement expressed shock at the development calling it an “act of recklessness and lawlessness” displayed by the security apparatus of government.
The NBA president stated: “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:
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.
- The NBA believes that the current situation in the country calls for dynamic leadership and, as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project, invites the President of Nigeria 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.
In the same vein, a former presidential candidate of the association, Dr Babatunde Ajibade SAN also condemned the killings saying “This is unacceptable”
Dr Ajibade said further: “There is no justifiable excuse for the use of live ammunition by security agents on protesting youths at Lekki Toll Gate. This is a new low in the level of bad governance that we are witnessing in this country;
This action more than anything else establishes the lack of sincerity in the lip service government has paid to the #ENDSARS movement;
How can a civilised nation authorise the use of live ammunition on unarmed protesters? How can execution without arrest, trial or conviction be the penalty for breaching a curfew;
Government must exercise maximum restraint, no matter the level of the perceived provocation. This is completely unacceptable and an act of bad and irresponsible governance.