#EndSARS survivors sue FG at ECOWAS court

Survivors of Lekki tollgate shooting last year has filed a lawsuit against the federal government before the ECOWAS court.

Soldiers on October 20, 2020 swooped on peaceful protesters in Lagos and opened fire on the crowd demanding an end to police brutality. Amnesty International, in its report, said over 50 persons died in the massacre the Nigerian government has continued to insist did not occur.

The survivors, three in number who preferred anonymity to avoid being victimised, said they are seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights.

Their legal representative, Bolaji Gabari Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Gaye Sowe, and Nelson Olanipekun in a joint statement on Thursday said the applicants told the court that they are suffering untold psychological trauma and threat to life, from the day of the shootings.

“The applicants seek among others, the declaration that the Nigerian State has violated her obligations under the Nigerian Constitution, International laws and most especially the African Charter; failed and fails to protect the lives of the applicants and citizens; protect its citizens from extrajudicial killings, police brutality and to promote and provide security for its citizens,” part of the statement reads.

“That the State persistently tolerates and promotes a climate of impunity in the Country as a result of its systemic failure to condemn, effectively identify and secure accountability for a series of grave attacks against the Applicants and people of Nigeria and failure to convict perpetrators of human rights violations in the years preceding the 20th and 21st of October 2020 Lekki Tollgate Shooting and till date.

“The call to end brutality and extrajudicial killings by the Police has been on since December 2017. The 2020 protests were triggered by a SARS official’s killing of a young man on October 3 2020, in front of Wetland Hotel, Ughelli, in Delta state. Young people trooped out in their numbers online and offline, demanding an end to SARS, a reform of the Nigerian Police Force, and a demand for good governance.”

“From the beginning of the peaceful protests on October 8th 2020, the protesters were consistently attacked and arrested by the Police and other security agents. The Government also employed strategies to disrupt protests, including sowing division and resorting to intimidation and disinformation tactics, deploying military forces to sites of peaceful demonstrations as is evident in the Lekki Shootings and attempts at social media regulation. The police and the military fired live ammunition, deployed tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters.

“The online and offline attacks on human rights defenders, the arrests and illegal detention of protesters, the deregistration of organisations and blanket tag of terrorism on bank accounts belonging to protesters, etc. were some tactics the government and its agencies employed, presumably to silence the dissenting voices.

“All of these constitute a gross violation of fundamental human rights guaranteed by Sections 38 and 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Given this disregard for the rights of Nigerian people, we are commencing litigation against the Federal Government of Nigeria at the ECOWAS Court of Justice to seek redress for the victims and accountability against the Government who through her agents were involved in the rights abuses that led to the #EndSARS protests and its aftermath.”