#EndSARS: UN reacts, tells Bukhari what to do
The United Nations, through its High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called on President Muhammdu Bukhari to immediately address the issues that have sparked protests in the country.
Bachelet called on the Nigerian authorities to take urgent action to address the underlying problem of violations by security forces.
According to NAN, Bachelet called Lagos on Thursday, saying that after years of reports of violations that have not been properly addressed, there should be a “radical overhaul of the entire security sector and its civilian oversight.”
He said this should include a complete overview of the rules for participation, systems and teaching methods.
The way to restore confidence and restore peace on the streets of Nigeria, she said, is for the authorities to take concrete steps immediately to demonstrate that they are sincerely committed to fighting impunity after years of inaction.
Bachelet on Tuesday condemned the use of “excessive and disproportionate force” by Nigerian forces in Lagos and called on the government to do more to bring security officials to justice for crimes against civilians.
“Although the number of victims of the shooting at the Lecchi toll station in Lagos is still unknown, there is no doubt that it was an excessive use of force that led to unlawful killings.
Reports that security cameras and lighting were deliberately turned off prior to the shooting are even more troubling, as, if confirmed, they suggest that this regrettable attack on peaceful protesters was deliberate, planned and coordinated.
“Nigeria was already at a boiling point before this shooting due to the exposure of years of uncontrolled violence, including alleged killings, rape, extortion and other abuses committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Despite the fact that the authorities disbanded SARS and announced a series of investigations at both the federal and state levels, few charges remain against its members,” he said in a statement.
Bachelet noted that many Nigerians did not seem to trust the investigations and other measures announced by the authorities and continued to take to the streets in several cities in protest.
The immediate creation of another elite police special forces to replace SARS without first addressing some of the root causes of police violence has further undermined public confidence, she said.
He added that the latest event in Lagos looked like an “arbitrary” fueling a fire that had already begun to spiral out of control.
“There is an urgent need for an independent, transparent and thorough investigation into not only the Tuesday night killings, but all previous violations by security forces.
“Those charged with conducting such investigations must not only be independent and impartial, but must also be perceived as such.
“If there is already sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges, the immediate removal from office of officers suspected of serious crimes should take place well before the completion of such investigations,” he said.
Bachelet said Nigerians, like everyone else, have a fundamental right to peaceful assembly and protest.
The government, in her opinion, is obliged to take positive measures to ensure the realization of this right, including preventing others who intend to prevent them from peaceful protests.
He called on the authorities to compensate the victims and begin a broad dialogue with youth leaders, students and other groups who played an important role among the protesters.
“The world’s attention is currently focused on how the government and security forces of Nigeria will react in the coming days and weeks.
“It is important for a population with such a young middle age to listen to the grievances of the younger generation and make efforts to address the myriad problems they face, including police brutality and abuse,” Bachelet said.