The Nigerian government must launch a credible and independent investigation into the recent unlawful killings of at least 12 civilians, UN human rights experts said today *.
“Since 2005, UN special rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of killings and police impunity before the Nigerian government,” the experts said. “We had government promises for 15 years, but nothing has changed.
“Governments come and go, but police brutality is more insurmountable than ever. Nigerians need justice. “
Experts said excessive use of force during peaceful assemblies was always unacceptable, but the shooting at the Lecchi toll booth in Lagos on October 20 was “particularly troubling as the protesters were demanding accountability for previous police brutality.” …
Since October 8, Nigerians have taken to the streets across the country to protest violations of rights allegedly committed by the Anti-Robbery Task Force (SARS).
“What is particularly worrisome is that the authorities said they had disbanded SARS and agreed to other demands from the protesters, including an investigation,” the experts said. “But they immediately announced the creation of another similar unit and did not end the excessive use of force.”
The protesters were greeted by water cannons, tear gas and live bullets. Hundreds were injured and an unknown death toll. In addition, protesters were arrested and beaten by security forces and others were attacked by armed men.
Experts say the fact that security cameras and lighting were turned off at the toll station in Lecchi shortly before soldiers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators indicates “an alarming level of premeditation.”
According to human rights experts, systematic police brutality and excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators must be investigated independently and impartially, and those responsible must be brought to justice.
In addition to organizing an independent investigation, the authorities need to find out why the military was deployed and who gave the order, experts say. “Any investigation should focus on identifying lines of responsibility, ensuring accountability and fairness, providing remedies and redress, and recommending structural and systemic change,” they said.
The experts also called on the government to publish reports on previous investigations into human rights abuses by security forces. These include the 2019 National Human Rights Commission’s SARS Report and the 2018 Presidential Investigative Committee’s Report on Military Compliance and Human Rights Rules (“PIP”).
“The authorities have pledged for years to tackle human rights abuses by security forces,” experts said. “Hundreds of victims and relatives of the victims gave testimony and filed petitions, but they never received any remedy, not even a confession that their rights had been violated. It is imperative that the government publishes all of these reports before new investigations begin. ”
The experts wrote directly to the government of Nigeria, stressing that “it is time to take concrete action to properly investigate all incidents and make structural changes to prevent recurrence.”