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A Non-Governmental Organization, 1001 + Voices Initiative for People Empowerment, has condemned the killing of #ENDSARS Protesters at Lekki Tollgate.

 

The group, in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Uwem-Obong Ankak, said the “Initiative for People Empowerment is aghast with the management of the protest by the federal and state governments, through the security agencies. We are particularly irked that a security agency, paid and equipped by tax-payers money could turn their guns on unarmed youths and citizens. We are alarmed that, thugs and hoodlums, who were reportedly encouraged by the government as a counter-force to the protesters, turned around to loot private shops, burn down police stations, and other public and private buildings.”

 

“Tuesday evening, October 20, 2020, will be remembered as the day Nigeria lost its soul. It was a gory evening when security operatives, specifically soldiers turned its guns on innocent protesters, who have been on the streets of major cities in Nigeria, protesting against police brutality. For more than 10 days, innocent, peaceful youths, who have been the butts of police brutality, were on the streets to legitimately protest the harassment of our law enforcement agents, especially the variant called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who have become law unto themselves. From Abuja to Lagos, Edo, Ekiti, Jos, Awka, Kano, and in major world capitals like London, Washington DC, New York, Melbourne, the well-organized protests got the support of well-meaning Nigerians and world leaders because of the organizational savvy of the organizers.“

 

“But, that changed when reported infiltration of the ranks of protesters, purportedly sponsored by the government came to public knowledge. The tempo of the protests changed across the country. And that is why, the seeming peaceful protest assumed the dimension of a violent one. Thugs, miscreants and misguided elements infiltrated the ranks and hell was let loose. Shops and business premises became targets, and the seeming symbolic protest went awry. The response of the government in Edo State where protesters allegedly freed inmates in Benin Maximum prison, with 24-hour curfew, and a replication in Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Plateau states 24 hours later, had pushed and increased the volume of the protest to a very high decibel.”

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The statement further said “We are calling on the government to quickly do everything possible to bring this ugly situation to an end. We particularly call on President Mohammadu Buhari, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to address the nation, particularly the youths, and persuade them to call off the protests across the country to douse the palpable tension enveloping the land. He should make concessions to the youths and promise to address their concerns. We urge an investigation to the shooting of innocent and harmless youths at the Lekki Tollgate and those culpable be brought to book immediately. The investigation should particularly focus on those who gave orders for the Army to storm the scene at the Lekki Tollgate. And if the Army high command is involved in deploying soldiers to shoot at innocent protesters, appropriate the International Criminal Court should be informed through documentary evidence.”

 

The group implored “the #ENDSARS protesters to call off their demonstration, albeit temporarily. “We cannot continue to lose precious lives. It is evident that the Youths have made their points, and any conscionable leader should move fast to meet the demands with clear timelines. It is indisputable that the five and later fourteen demands of the Protesters are germane. It can be executed through the immediate, medium and long term strategy. The carnage resulting from the protests across the states has been phenomenal!.”

 

“Today, we are witnessing an escalation of violence, accentuated by the shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate. To say that the situation is spinning out of control is stating the obvious. We, therefore, appeal that everything should be done to nib this ugly, shameful and distasteful situation in the bud,” the statement concluded.

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