By Henry Uche
On the heels of the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, Global Rights- Nigeria has called on government and citizens of Nigeria to introspect on the essence of nationhood, citizenship and democracy and live accordingly.
In a statement delivered by the Executive Director, Abiodun Baiyewu, the group reminded Nigerians that at the crux of the #EndSARS protests, is a simple cry by citizens for “dignity” noting that the right to live without oppression in one’s own country must not be alienated.
“A right to fair hearing, a right to freedom from discrimination, a right to life. All rights guaranteed by the nation’s constitution. Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly states that, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’; while Section 17(2)(c) instructs that “governmental actions shall be humane,”
She noted that if the Nigerian government had simply followed the injunctions of the Constitution, it was very doubtful that the throes of a global pandemic young Nigerians mainly in their 20s and 30s, would take to the streets no longer fearing the pandemic or the brutal treatment meted on protesters.
“Global Rights notes with dismay that while 28 of the 31 Judicial Panels on SARS had completed their assignments (most as far back as July), their recommendations for punitive measures against the erring officers have been implemented. Remember, Section 14(2) (b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which spells thus: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,”
“Importantly, we note with dismay the blatant impunity that followed the protests which resulted in an upward turn in the numbers extra-judicial killings across the country rather than a reduction. We noted that between October 2019 and September 2020, there had been at least 135 extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, excluding the number of persons killed during the #EndSARS protest.
She stressed however that in spite of government’s promise to end impunity and reform the security forces to respect the right to life and dignity of all persons as ensued by the Constitution, between October 2020 and September 2021, there was an unconscionable rise in extrajudicial killings to at least 187.
Global Rights therefore calls on the government of Nigeria to live up to its constitutional mandate of ensuring the security and welfare of all citizens, by investigating and indicting the hoodlums and security agents that disrupted the peaceful protests, implementing the recommendations of the Judicial Panels on Police, and institute reforms to ensure that security forces respect the rights of citizens.
“Again, we remind the government that the Right to hold dissenting opinions and the Right to protest are constitutionally protected Rights for all persons. The threats by the Nigerian Police Force to disallow protests related to the anniversary of the protest is unconstitutional and unbecoming of a government that professes democratic ideals. Governance will be a more productive venture when citizens feel listened to and heard by the elected representatives and public officers.
“These events reached tipping point right after the marking of the nation’s 60th anniversary in 2020, and had watershed moment in the nation’s history and must not be forgotten by both the demand and supply sides of governance.
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