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Drifting Polity And Seasons Of Protests: CHRICED Condemns Lekki Toll Gate Massacre

• Calls For National Unity To Achieve Goals of Protest 

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) strongly condemns the shooting of unarmed protesters by the military at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020. We equally condemn unequivocally the trend wherein sponsored thugs and hoodlums are used to attack peaceful protesters. Across the country, and specifically in Abuja, Benin, Lagos, and Kano, there have been a disturbing and consistent pattern of planned attacks on protesters and innocent Nigerians using armed thugs who have killed, maimed and destroyed property. Nigerians peacefully voicing their concerns about the state of the country have become victims of violence unleashed by thugs and other rogue elements within the armed services. Nigeria is supposed to be a democratic country where the right of peaceful protest is constitutionally guaranteed. To mow down scores of young people using the firepower of the State constitutes a brazen assault on the inalienable right of citizens to life guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution, and in International Human Rights Instruments. The level of impunity and wanton killings of citizens, which is only reminiscent of June-12 1993 protests, must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. 

CHRICED stand at all times in solidarity with the oppressed, harassed and victimized citizens, wherever they may be in this country. As our compatriot, the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka puts it, the man dies in him, who remains silent in the face of tyranny and oppression. As a civil society organization, whose very existence depends on the protection of civil liberties, we cannot stand aloof and watch on while political pillagers and predators, unleash terror on innocent and defenceless citizens, with the goal of silencing dissent and protest against endless corruption, police brutality, social and economic injustices, and mindless plundering of national resources. 

Therefore, the gory and blood-soaked images of Nigerians being shot, and the tragedy of young people losing their lives just because they are peacefully exercising their right to protest, is a stain on our collective conscience. To use the instrument of the state to suppress protests in such a deadly manner, as to recklessly mow down our youths by the guns and bullets of soldiers paid for by the Nigerian taxpayers, inflicts deep wounds in our collective soul. Whoever ordered for the triggers to be pulled against innocent protesters has committed manifold murders. CHRICED calls for the perpetrators of these dastardly acts to be immediately held to account and brought to justice. We call on the United Nations, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Commonwealth, the European Union, and the entire international community to take due note of these killings; and ensure there are consequences. CHRICED stands with all families who have lost their loved ones in these needless killings. We hope and pray for justice to reign in order to have peace in our traumatized country.

CHRICED strongly believes that the killing of our compatriots should not discourage us from pressing ahead with the principled and noble demands. However, knowing that the Nigerian State is now baying for the blood of its citizens, CHRICED calls on protesters to explore other options away from the streets to press home the demands for police reforms, an end to corruption, and the need to entrench good governance in our country. It is pertinent to state that beyond the clarion call for police reforms, the ongoing protests represent the voice of the youth denouncing corruption, unemployment, slave wages, collapse in education, dilapidated infrastructure and the bleak reality which bad governance has imposed on our promising country. These are the ills Nigerian youths have been protesting against, in the absence of fighting organisations, and in the face of a comatose Labour movement and the docility of Nigerian civil society coalitions. We must collectively as citizens ensure the goal of ridding the country of these anomalies is achieved. That is the only way our beloved ones, who were killed can be honoured. 

Importantly too, CHRICED calls on young Nigerians and all well-meaning citizens to resist attempts by the failed political elites to set them against one another by depicting this struggle in terms of ethnicity and religion. It is pertinent to make this point because ethnic champions and religious bigots are already busy trying to distract the youth from the goal by bringing up irrelevant issues to play up the many fault lines. This sinister plan by the ethnic champions and religious bigots must be countered. There can be no mistake in the fact that the realities of bad governance facing Nigerians in the South, are basically not different from those facing the ordinary people of the North. Poverty, illiteracy, poor health services, and the collapse of infrastructure are challenges which affect Christians, Muslims and traditional religionists alike. Understanding this important point will help all citizens counter divisive narratives meant to keep the people of this country divided and distracted. CHRICED calls on Nigerians in the North, South, Muslims and Christians to understand that this country has a common enemy in the political elite, whose exclusive focus is how to line their pockets. We must therefore not allow the politicians to distract us with their divide and rule tactics. We must stand firm to push and to achieve our goal of building a nation of equal rights and justice. 

Long live the Nigerian Youths, long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director

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