A ‘Feminist Womanifesto’ under the #NigerianWomenArise has condemned Nigerian soldiers’ shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday signed by Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo.
The group also demanded that those who ordered the deployment of soldiers to shoot at unarmed citizens be unmasked and brought to book.
“We demand the immediate constitution of an independent judicial panel of inquiry that will include credible civil society organisations, professional bodies such as the Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Medical Association, labour unions, youth organisations, security agencies, and women organisations.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians and in a gesture of confidence-building present a list of the actions the government has taken on the immediate and short term demands the protesters have publicly tabled,” the statement said.
Proposing a number of suggestions to de-escalate the crises, the group stated, “We demand that the government immediately investigate and identify the thugs that were hired to disrupt the protests nationwide and differentiate them from the #ENDSARS protesters. It is the responsibility of the police to remove perpetrators of violence from the streets and ensure diligent prosecution thereafter.
“We demand the withdrawal of soldiers from the streets and employ peaceful modes of engagement in policing to provide security for the #ENDSARS protesters.”
The #NigerianWomenArise noted that the freedom to engage in peaceful protest was a democratic right, and not a privilege.
“The fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are well-entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
“In exercise of these rights, Nigerian youths embarked on a peaceful protest from Thursday, 8th October, 2020 calling on the federal government to put an end to police brutality and unlawful killings, ensure prosecution of culprits and implement needed police reforms,” it stated.
The group observed that had the federal government intervened on time then the situation would not have degenerated into chaos.
“We believe that this reprehensible action is what has stirred up the retaliative acts of violence by some youths, which have escalated into unmanageable street violence, arson, destruction of government and private properties, as well as looting that is now being witnessed across the country.
“Furthermore, Nigerian women believe the violence we have seen could have been prevented if government, at all levels, had intervened timely to constructively engage protesters whose demands for an end to SARS, police brutality and good governance, were in the public domain,” the group explained.
#NigerianWomenArise stressed further that the killing of protesters in Lagos and other parts of the country was a gross violation of the rights guaranteed by the constitution, breaching the covenant between the government and its citizens.
Assuring of its support and solidarity with the ENDSARS agitation, it added that it would do all that is necessary to help to safeguard the right to peaceful protests.
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