(Lagos, October 22, 2020) – Human Rights Watch joined forty other civil society groups today to issue the following statement calling for an end to the use of excessive force against protesters in Lagos and across Nigeria:
Since the evening of Tuesday, 20 October 2020, we have watched with shock and dismay of footage of men dressed in military uniforms opening fire on protesters calling for an end to police brutality at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria. We condemn all use of excessive force against the protesters and the unlawful violence by unidentified non-state actors that followed, leading to destruction of property in Lagos and across the country.
To this end, we urge the federal government of Nigeria and the relevant state authorities responsible for ensuring safety and security in Nigeria to end the unlawful violence and prevent further escalation of the situation.
We affirm the rights of young people and the peaceful protesters who gathered in Nigeria and abroad to speak and demonstrate freely to share their experiences of abuse in the hands of SARS officers. We support their demand for accountability, justice, and police reform. We commiserate with everyone who has suffered pain, injury, and lost loved ones. We call for respect for the rule of law in addressing all issues.
We demand that the government of Nigeria ensure:
1. Immediate withdrawal of the army from the streets and ensuring that responsibility for policing remains with the Nigerian Police Force.
2. Respect and protection for the rights to peaceful protest and assembly.
3. Immediate release of all protesters held merely on grounds of their support of or participation in protests.
4. Immediate and thorough investigation of allegations of unlawful killing and use of excessive force and lethal ammunition against protestors in Lagos on the evening of Tuesday, 20 October 2020.
5. The independence and transparency of all panels of inquiry and ongoing processes aimed at addressing widespread allegations of impunity and violations by SARS and other security agents.
6. Identification and immediate prosecution of the SARS and other security officers suspected of committing violations.
7. Compensation to all victims of unlawful police violence.
8. Urgent review and implementation of the various reports on police and security reform
9. Review of the handling of the #EndSARS protests by security agents, including their failure to prevent the attacks on peaceful protesters by violent non-state actors, thugs, and hoodlums despite warnings.
1. Amnesty International Nigeria
2. Project Alert on Violence Against Women
3. Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)
4. Prisoners' Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA)
6. CLEEN foundation
7. Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN)
8. Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE)
10. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre
11. Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
12. Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation (HURSDEF)
13. Global Rights
14. Spaces for Change
15. Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
16. Education as a Vaccine
17. Access to Justice (A2J)
18. Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)
19. Center For Liberty
20. Let's Help Humanitarian Foundation
21. Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution
22. Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD)
23. Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
24. Sterling Centre for Law & Development
25. Raising New Voices Initiative
26. Concerned Nigerians
27. Free Nigeria Movement
29. Interactive Initiative for Social Impact (The Interactive)
30. Women's Health and Equal Rights Initiative (WHER)
31. Youth Concerns Development Foundation-Africa
32. Dinidari Foundation
33. Butterfly Effect Empowerment Initiative
34. Centre for Impact Advocacy
35. YIAGA Africa
36. Sesor Empowerment Foundation
37. ActionAid Nigeria
38. Justice & Empowerment Initiatives -Nigeria (JEI)
39. Alliances for Africa (AfA)
40. Nigerian Feminist Forum
41. NOPRIN Foundation