By Stanley Ugagbe
President Muhamadu Buhari has been urged to hold police officers accused of shooting #EndSARS demonstrators accountable.
In a letter dated December 10, 2020, a coalition of activists, politicians, celebrities expressed outrage at the loss of lives and destruction of properties during the protests and made suggestions to move the country forward.
The group highlighted the administration’s ‘unwarranted force against its own unarmed citizens’ and calling for the end of SARS.
In part, the letter reads, “As people who have supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and throughout the diaspora, we cannot be silent when similar atrocities take place in African countries. We demand respect for the Nigerian people, especially as they engage in their constitutional right to protest grave injustices. As president of the world’s most populous Black republic, you assume a leadership role on the global stage. Nigeria matters”.
The group made a four-point demand the government should take to foster calm as it engaged all stakeholders on the path to lasting peace.
It called for the release of all protesters, activists and journalists. “This must include the reinstatement of their passports, bank accounts, and all confiscated government IDs,” it said.
The coalition also proposed the “arrest and prosecution of those involved in the alleged killing of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Oct. 20, and around Nigeria throughout the protests.”
It also demanded the “government to permit a transparent investigation by independent human rights monitors into the action that led to the killings at Lekki Toll Gate, and publish all findings in nationally and internationally accredited media broadcasts.”
The coalition urged the government to “lift ban on peaceful demonstrations all throughout Nigeria to allow Nigerians exercise their constitutional right to protest.”
The letter concludes with, “Nigerians deserve better. Africa deserves better. The world deserves better. We remain united in our calls for justice until all Black lives matter throughout the world.”
Signatories to the letter included actors Danny Glover and Kerry Washington, singer Alicia Keys, civil rights campaigner Angela Davis, US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Nigerian-American rapper Jidenna and Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.
It would be recalled that in October Nigerian youths held the #EndSARS protest in major cities, demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police and end to police brutality.