A Statement by The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of seeking to use Daily Trust to spread innuendo and unsubstantiated hate speech indirectly aimed at instigating hate crimes against Igbo in Lagos by its false insinuations that the UK based Nnamdi Kanu made a broadcast shortly after the killings by suspected soldiers of peaceful protesters in LEKKI Toll Gates Lagos allegedly telling IPOB members to destroy properties of Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
This statement is to categorically blame Government Officials for The Infiltration of Armed Thugs Within The Peaceful Protesters In Reaction to The Claim By President Muhammadu Buhari That the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected, And Asking Why President Muhammadu Buhari Made no Mention of The Lekki Toll Gate Killing By Soldiers, While Calling for The Arrest And Questioning of the Miyetti Allah Rabble Rousing chairman Over The Attacks on Tinubu’s Businesses:
It is no longer news that street demonstrations began early this month with calls for Nigeria’s government to shut down the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police unit known as SARS. The squad, which was launched to fight crime, degenerated into a bunch of criminal gangsters carrying out torture and killings, according to Amnesty International and accounts made by several victims of these brutal tactics of the Police under the auspices of the Special Anti Robbery Squad.
The #EndSARS campaign spread across the country and Buhari’s government announced that it would disband the SARS unit. The protest persisted with demonstrators calling for more widespread reforms of the police and an end to corruption.
Violent unrest had erupted Wednesday in Lagos as mobs vandalized and burnt police stations, courthouses, TV stations and a hotel following the massacre on Lekki toll gates on Tuesday night by Nigerian Soldiers. Smoke billowed from several locations in the city as police battled angry crowds with tear gas and gunfire.
Looting and gunfire continued in Nigeria’s second-largest city on Thursday. As looting gangs stormed through parts of Nigeria’s largest city, spreading violence for a second day in Lagos.
First, after two weeks of agitation and two days after the massacre of unarmed protestants, President Muhammadu Buhari finally gave a national address. Sadly, in what should have been an opportunity to unify the country and, more significantly, empathize with grieving families, president Buhari’s speech came off instead as high-handed and tough, keeping with his long-running style as a former military general and dictator.
Significantly, the president’s speech, which was pre-recorded, made no mention of the troubling events at Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Oct. 20 wherein numerous witnesses reported that Nigerian Soldiers fired into a crowd of peaceful, unarmed protesters who had remained at the toll gate following a hastily announced curfew.
The president’s decision to completely omit the Lekki shootings resulted in several injuries and left 12 dead, according to Amnesty International from his speech seems to be in line with the Nigerian Army’s official stance of denial despite a wealth of video footage which contradicts this claim.
Again, president Buhari’s speech came with a demand (and a thinly veiled threat) for protesters to call off street demonstrations which have seen thousands gather at different locations across the country while using digital tools to drive and sustain the momentum.
“In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy. For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation; under no circumstances will this be tolerated,” Buhari said.
Secondly, in a virtual meeting with the former leaders, President Buhari averred that it is unfortunate that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected.
The President’s statement is troubling, coming amidst video footages showing armed thugs some of whom were seen bearing sophisticated weapons attacking peaceful protesters being ferried by security officials of government and the police.
More so, that in many incidents of the attacks by the armed thugs, policemen, who had been keeping vigil on the protesters, looked the other way when the hoodlums started attacking demonstrators.
Thirdly, in the midst of the protests, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-cultural Association had accused the #EndSARS protesters of planning to undermine and overthrow democratically elected government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Association, which in a statement by the National President; Adulahi Bodejo accused the former Lagos State governor; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of sponsoring the protests alleged that the ethnic and regional coloration of the protests also showed that some people from certain regions were trying to intimidate the North to give up its rights to rule beyond 2023.
OUR STAND AND WAY FORWARD:
Credible evidence has shown that protesters in Lagos and Abuja and some other cities faced vicious attacks from hoodlums who were usually conveyed in buses. In addition, the attacks usually occur in the presence of the policemen and other security agencies that are detailed to monitor the protest, yet failed to intervene to stop the attacks.
Hence, the blame for the infiltration of armed thugs within the peaceful protesters goes to the government. Government officials seem to be behind the procurement, mobilization, deployment and logistical movements of the armed thugs and the break in that happened in Benin prison.
Also, the collusion of government in the introduction of armed thugs is predicated on the lack of interest of government to institute forensic investigations into the disturbances caused by the armed thugs.
Again, the government should arrest the Miyetti Allah rabble rousing chairman and question him over the attacks on Tinubu’s businesses. This is because the attacks happened 24 hours after he accused Tinubu of attempting regime change.
It would be worthy to recall here, the claim of the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah few weeks back that his organisation has set up national armed vigilante to defend Fulani interest. Therefore, since he accused Tinubu of trying to unseat a fulani president he has explanations to make to law enforcement agencies about his many public statements vis-a-vis the attacks on protesters and Tinubu.
IT IS DISINGENUOUS THAT CERTAIN PERSONS IN THE PRESIDENCY HAVE USED THE ABUJA BASED DAILY TRUST TO TRY TO CIRCULATE FALSE ALARM AND A TOTAL SHAM OF A STORY WHICH PURPORTEDLY TWISTED AND SLANTED A STORY SOLD TO THEM FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT IN ABUJA TO ROPE IN THE DIRECTOR OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF BIAFRA (IPOB) AS BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTACKS TARGETING BOLA AHMED TINUBU AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL PETITION THE UNITED KINGDOM ABOUT A SO CALLED AUDIO THAT WAS CREDITED TO NNAMDI KANU WHICH ALLEGEDLY ASKED HIS MEMBERS TO ATTACK BOLA AHMED TINUBU. THIS IS A DIRECT ATTEMPT BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION TO EXPOSE MILLIONS OF IGBO RESIDENTS OF LAGOS TO AVOIDABLE DEATHS AND DESTRUCTIONS OF THEIR HARD EARNED PROPERTY. HOW CAN THE GOVERNMENT USE DAILY TRUST TO SELL THIS DUMMY WHICH IS PRIMARILY MEANT TO EXPOSE AN ETHNIC GROUP OF IGBO TO GET INTO A FIGHT WITH THEIR BROTHERS THE YORUBAS? THIS POOR SCRIPT AIMED AT INSTIGATING GENOCIDE MUST BE ABSOLUTELY CONDEMNED AND WE URGE EVERYONE IN NIGERIA TO ABIDE BY THE RULE OF LAW AS THE #ENDSARS PROTESTS WERE GENUINE AGITATION MASTERMINDED BY NIGERIANS OF ALL ETHNICITIES AND RELIGIONS AND THE ATTACKS TARGETING BOLA AHMED TINUBU AND OTHER STATE ASSETS WERE SPONTANEOUS AND CARRIED OUT BY HOODLUMS OF NO IDENTIFIABLE ORIENTATION. THE ATTACK ON THE OBA OF LAGOS WAS NEVER CARRIED OUT BY ANY ETHNICITY BUT BY A MOB.
Furthermore, the President’s address is not soothing enough. Most nobly, we expected the President to clear up issues like why the military (or men in military uniform) were shooting unarmed civilian and show solidarity with the people. We expect that ARMY through the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai will do everything within his powers to investigate the widespread allegations of military attacks of peaceful protesters in LEKKI Toll Gates Lagos so the Nigerian Army maintains its image as a professional institution.
As the leading civil rights advocacy group we are worried why President Buhari made no statement on the Lekki Toll Gate killing by soldiers. Owing to this, it could be said that he ordered the shoot out and if he did not then why the silence?
From the body language of the President as evidenced in his speech, the president is cut off from the plight of the ordinary citizens. The first thing we had wanted to hear from President Buhari during his address and his meeting with former Nigerian Leaders was him speaking with some empathy. This President does not appear to be willing to play the role of a statesman. President Muhammadu Buhari has in the last five years made sure that the entire command and control of the internal security Architectures are kept in the hands of Hausa/FULANI Moslem Northerners to the total disregard of the Federal Character Principle as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is unconstitutional and absolutely devoid of respect for the plurality and multiethnicities of the Nation that the President has decidedly surrounded himself with only his kinsman as commanders of all the Internal security institutions of a Country of over 400 Ethnic groups and several religious affiliations. Mr. President should therefore be blamed for tolerating the sponsorship by his supporters in government of armed thugs to infiltrate places where the peaceful protesters were to cause maximum violence and damage of unquantifiable dimension but only for him to begin to look for a scapegoat in the person of Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra when there are several Northerners that openly threatened the peaceful marchers and few hours later, then anarchy was unleashed.
WHY IS THE PRESIDENT LOOKING FOR THOSE WHO CREATED CHAOS AND ANARCHY WHEN THE PEOPLE OPENLY SAID THEY WERE SUPPORTING HIM BECAUSE THE PEACEGUL PROTESTS WAS FOR A REGIME CHANGE AND EVEN THE ACTING NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS MADE SIMILAR CLAIMS TO THE MEDIA?
*COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO: NATIONAL COORDINATOR.
Miss. Zainab Yusuf: Director, National Media Affairs.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
OCTOBER 24TH 2020.