By Seun Adeuyi
A group of activists and celebrities have demanded that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari should hold police officers accused of shooting #EndSARS demonstrators accountable.
In the letter dated December 10, 2020, the coalition expressed outrage at the loss of lives and destruction of properties during the protests and made suggestions to move the country forward.
A copy of the letter titled, “Dear President Buhari, Nigerians Deserve Better’’, was made available to the BreakingTimes on Friday.
Signatories to the letter included actors Danny Glover and Kerry Washington, singer Alicia Keys, civil rights campaigner Angela Davis, US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Nigerian-American rapper Jidenna and Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.
It suggested four immediate actions the government should take to foster calm as it engaged all stakeholders on the path to lasting peace.
They include the release of all protesters, activists and journalists. “This must include the reinstatement of their passports, bank accounts, and all confiscated government IDs,” it said.
The coalition also suggested the “arrest and prosecution of those involved in the alleged killing of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Oct. 20, and around Nigeria through out the protests.”
It also suggested the “government to permit a transparent investigation by independent human rights monitors into the action that led to the killings at Lekki Toll Gate, and publish all findings in nationally and internationally accredited media broadcasts.”
The coalition urged the government to “lift ban on peaceful demonstrations all throughout Nigeria to allow Nigerians exercise their constitutional right to protest.”
The coalition said it sent copies of the letter to: Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Sylvanus Nsofor; G20 Nigerian Ambassadors; South Africa President, Cyrill Ramaphosa; Chairperson African Union; Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo; and Chair Economic Community of West Africa States.
Recall that, in October Nigerian youths held the #EndSARS protest in major cities, demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police and end to police brutality.
The SARS, which was disbanded days into the protest, was notorious for extra-judicial killings, harassment and excessive use of force.
The protest gained global traction with prominent people across the globe lending their voices to the campaign.
Later, the largely peaceful protest was hijacked by hoodlums who unleashed acts such as looting and arson.
However, on October 20, two weeks after the protest began, Nigerian soldiers allegedly shot unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate Plaza in Lagos state. This generated a furore forcing the army and the Lagos State government to initially deny shooting.