Numerous global political figures have joined the many international celebrities who have expressed concern over the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, especially the recent shooting of protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on Tuesday.
United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres; former United States President, Bill Clinton; his wife and former US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton; former US Vice President, Joe Biden; United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab; President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the European Union are just a few of the those who have condemned the act and urge restraint rather than confrontation.
and the Ooni of Ife, Oba AdeyeyeOgunwusi.
Biden, in a statement, titled, ‘Violence in Nigeria – Statement by Vice President Joe Biden,’ said the United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption.
He said: “I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence.
“The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy. I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”
The Ghanaian President, Akufo-Addo, assured Nigerians that he had spoken with Buhari and that the president had begun the process that would lead to reforming the police and other demands.
He stated that violence on the part of the police or protesters could not be the solution to resolving the crisis.
Akufo-Addo expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
“I join all well-meaning persons in calling for calm, and the use of dialogue in resolving the #EndSARS impasse in Nigeria. I have spoken with President Buhari, who is committed to this end, and has begun the processes that will lead to reform.
“Violence, be it on the part of the police or protesters, cannot be the solution,” he said.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Guterres, also called for an end to police brutality and attack on #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria.
Guterres condemned the killing of activists demanding police reforms in Lagos and other parts of the country.
The UN boss, in a statement yesterday, also expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
He called on the authorities to investigate the incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable.
According to a statement from his office: “The secretary-general is following recent developments in Nigeria and calls for an end to reported police brutality and abuses.
“He condemns the violent escalation on October 20 in Lagos which resulted in multiple deaths and caused many injuries.
“The secretary-general urges the security forces to act at all times with maximum restraint while calling on protestors to demonstrate peacefully and to refrain from violence.”
The European Union (EU) also expressed shock over the killings of the #EndSARS protesters.
The EU said this yesterday in a statement titled, ‘Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President, JosepBorrell’.
“It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria. It is crucial that those responsible for abuses be brought to justice and held accountable. Following the government’s will to deliver on reforms, we expect to see decisive implementation,” it stated.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, condemned the shooting of protesting youths at Lekki and other parts of the country. The world leader of the Anglican Church, who is also Buhari’s personal friend, said he had earlier advised the president to ensure that lives are protected.
Welby made his position on the shooting known in a message he posted on his Twitter handle, @JustinWelby.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the reported deliberate shooting of unarmed protesters in #Lagos and other parts of #Nigeria.
“I have urged President @MBuhari directly to ensure that lives are protected – and I say that again now.
“I mourn for Nigeria. May God save Nigeria,” he tweeted.
The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) expressed concern over the protest against police brutality by the youth that has turned violent.
It called on the federal government to probe the misconduct of the disbanded SARS.
The President of the Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, in a statement yesterday, urged security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally.
“While ECOWAS Commission recognises the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protests, it is also of the view that those rights should be exercised in a non-violent manner.
“In this regard, ECOWAS Commission calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations. It also urges the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally,” it said.
Nigeria’s internationally-acclaimed and much respected Nobel prize winner (in Literature), Prof Wole Soyinka, also denounced the presence of the military on the streets of Lagos and called on governors where protests forced declaration of curfews to immediately demand the withdrawal of soldiers deployed by the federal government.
The playwright, in a statement from his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, titled, ‘DÉJÀ VU– In tragic vein’ said it was bliss to be alive to watch youths finally beginning to take the future into their own hands.
Soyinka said with the protesters’ roadblocks in Ogun State and elsewhere, it was all déjà vu– the uprisings in the former Western Region of Nigeria and the anti-Abacha movement among others.
“To the affected governors all over the nation, there is one immediate step to take: demand the withdrawal of those soldiers. Convoke town hall meetings as a matter of urgency. 24-hour curfews are not the solution.
“Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage. Substitute community self-policing based on local councils, to curb hooligan infiltration and extortionist and destructive opportunism. We commiserate with the bereaved and urge state governments to compensate material losses, wherever,” he said.
He told the federal government that the army had now replaced SARS in the demonic album of the protesters.
“My enquiry so far indicates that the Lagos governor did not invite the army, did not complain of a ‘breakdown in law and order. Nevertheless, the centre has chosen to act in an authoritarian manner and has inflicted a near incurable wound on the community psyche. Need I add that, on arrival in Abeokuta, my hometown, I again had to negotiate a roadblock? That went smoothly enough. I expected it, and have no doubt that more are being erected as this is being written,” the Nobel laureate stated.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said in a report that twelve people were killed when “Nigeria’s security forces” fired upon two large gatherings of peaceful protesters in Lagos on Tuesday night.
Some of those killed and injured at the toll plaza in Lekki and in Alausa, were taken away by the military, the rights group alleged in the report.
“We came to the sad conclusion this evening that at least in that incident alone, I mean in the incident in Lagos alone, 12 people have lost their lives,” Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said on Wednesday night.
Ojigbo added that there were “so many cases and so many incidents,” but the twelve deaths were the ones the group could independently verify.
“The number could be much higher,” Ojigbo said.
The rights group added in its report that the security forces opened fire “without warning” on the protesters at the Lekki toll plaza, citing eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports.
Its report backs up posts and images on social media that showed widespread violence against protesters.
“From what we have seen on the ground, clearly, they (security forces) did not respect international human rights law and Nigerian Constitution as well, in terms of protecting people’s lives and securing people’s safety.”
Amnesty said it had received reports that shortly before the shootings, CCTV security cameras at the Lekki toll gates, where protesters had been camped for two weeks, were removed by government officials and electricity was cut to prevent evidence emerging of the violence. The group called on the Nigerian authorities to investigate.
“It’s also important for the authorities to investigate those allegations that the CCTV cameras and the lights, street lights, were not available at that point in time and that they were actually removed prior to the incidents that occurred. They need to actually get to the root of that,” Ojigbo said.
At least 56 people have died during two weeks of widespread demonstrations against police violence in the country, the group said.
However, Nigeria’s military has denied responsibility for the Lekki shootings, posting a tweet that labelled several reports as fake news.
President Muhammadu Buhari – who has said little about the protests engulfing his country – did not mention the Lekki shootings in a statement Wednesday but issued a call for calm and vowed police reforms.