The UK parliament on Monday debated a petition seeking to impose sanctions on Nigerian Government officials involved in the killing of peaceful protesters in Lekki on October 20.
For more than an hour, Members of Parliament condemned the violence that erupted at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos and insisted that Nigerian officials should not enjoy in the UK the liberties they deny their citizens at home.
The Minister for Africa was absent from the proceedings but his representative said that he will await the outcome of the judicial panels of inquiries into the shooting.
“Work is underway to consider how a global corruption sanction regime could be added to the government’s armoury,” a representative for the Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, said.
“This government will continue to press the Nigerian government and its security services to uphold human rights and the rule of law, to investigate all incidents of brutality, illegal detentions and the use of excessive force and to hold those responsible to account.
“We will closely monitor the judicial panel of inquiries and continue to advocate for investigations into police brutality. The government will consider its options as the panel’s work progresses.”
A particularly revealing moment came when an MP urged his government to place sanctions on Nigerians who flee to the UK with ill-gotten wealth, citing Nigeria’s former military ruler Yakubu Gowon’s alleged looting of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“We need to stop those who are profiting from the wealth of that great nation and hiding it here. Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half the Central Bank, so it is said, and moved to London,” the MP said. “We know that today, even now in this great city of ours, there are sadly some people who have taken from the Nigerian people and hidden their ill-gotten gains here.”
The petition, started by Silas Ojo, garnered more than 220,000 signatories, crossing the 100, 000 mark needed for a petition to be debated by the lawmakers.
Early last month, thousands of Nigerians took to the streets, calling for an end to police brutality and extra-judicial killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Protests in Lagos turned bloody on October 20 when soldiers confronted peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate and Alausa, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International.