The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has decried the use of brute force on some #ENDSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate, Lagos, on Tuesday.
In a release by the Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Director of Administration and Programmes Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news on the repression and shooting of some protesters who were at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos in continuation of their #EndSARS Protest which has been going on for some days now.
“For the umpteenth time, we are reiterating our position of disappointment over the use of brute force in a civil matter like this. The excessive use of armed military men who are trained and saddled with the protection of the country’s territorial integrity for confronting domestic issues like civilian protests is unacceptable, barbaric, uncivilized and savagery.
“The attack on peaceful protesters just on the basis of publicly decrying the brutality of the police and other socioeconomic situations in the country and for calling on far-reaching reforms that could give necessary reliefs to the majority of Nigerians today and the unborn generations in future speak volume on the type of democracy being operated in this clime.
“The sensible option would have been to engage these protesters in dialogue and to amicably resolve all the burning issues raised by them.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, the rights to protest, associate and assemble for either individual or collective interest(s) is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined and recognized by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and other international legislation and protocols, once they are not effected under any violence or coercion.
“These rights are not qualified or deflated by place or location, especially where such location is a public space like the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos.
“In saner climes, protests have been held by their citizens, severally at the Capitol or CIA, FBI Headquarters in the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, and other democracies in the world.
“Where the protesters continue with their protest, the onus is on the government to look for peaceful avenues to end the protest and not to turn the state into a Hobbesian State of nature where life is said to be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. It is therefore tantamount to worsening an already tensed situation by dragging armed military men to the scenes of the protests in Lekki, Alausa and other locations to confront unarmed and defenseless protesters contrary to the rule of law and known tenets of democratic order”.
The CACOL boss added, “While we are using this medium to advise the protesters to remain peaceful and calm, not to engage in any action that will further lead to loss of lives and properties, and to be open to negotiations. They also need to repose confidence in any or some of their colleagues that will follow the implementation of their demands to the letter. All of them cannot be leaders, there must be the first amongst equals, after all if they take over the government everybody cannot be president at the same time. They can also help the government on workable timelines and deliverables for the implementation of their demands”.
“We also want to remind the government that power belongs to the people and whosoever empowers can also disempower, hence the need to heed the call of these Nigerians at this trying time.
“We call on the president to address the people now on measures to bring sanity to the current situation. The Nigerian security apparati should be rightly and correctly guided of their operations, nuances and limitations under a democracy, so as not to resort to any overzealous act or repressive attitudes over legitimate and peaceful agitations under any guise”.