Fred Itua, Abuja, FCT
Twenty four hours after soldiers allegedly opened fire on #EndSARS protesters in Lekki, Lagos State, some senators have condemned the action.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, is yet to comment on the development, despite a nationwide outrage over the killings.
Lawan presided on Tuesday when the Senate took a resolution urging President Muhammadu Buhari to address the country to douse the nationwide protests.
Former Deputy President of the Senate Ike Ekweremadu and Senate Committee Chairman on Women Affairs, Betty Apiafi, in separate reactions, said the incident was provocative and unconstitutional.
Ekweremadu said that any restrictions on the rights of Nigerians, including the right to peaceful assembly must follow the Constitution.
Ekweremadu called for justice for those who had fallen victim to government’s actions or inactions in the face of the nationwide protests.
The lawmaker said: ‘The events at the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate and use of maximum force on unarmed protesters last night is another low for our nation and her democracy and should be condemned by men and women of conscience across all political divides.
‘Therefore, my heart goes out to the wounded and the families of the dead. Everyone involved in this irrational and horrendous act must be held accountable in order to preserve the sanctity of human lives, our democracy, and what is left of our dignity in the comity of civilised nations.’
Apiafi from Rivers State, while addressing newsmen in Abuja, called on President Buhari to investigate and ensure that the military officers responsible for the Lekki massacre are brought to book.
She described Tuesday’s incident as as the darkest day in Nigeria’s recent history.:
‘Today is a sad day for Nigeria. How can a democratically-elected government use the military to kill Nigerian Citizens, the same people who elected us into positions, the same people we swore to protect as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution?
‘The Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended provides for the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
‘Section 13 which talks about the fundamental objectives of Government, clearly states that it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government and of all authorities and persons exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of the chapters of this constitution.
‘Section 14 further provides that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice. It further declares that “the sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its power and authority; the Security and Welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
‘Section 40 also states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union, or association for the protection of his interests”.
‘From the constitutional provisions above, the gunning down and massacre of young, unarmed and defenseless peaceful ENDSARS PROTESTERS at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on Tuesday 20th October 2020, by the military is unconstitutional.
‘These youths were only demanding that government lives up to its responsibilities of protecting their lives from Police brutality, and for a better future for the Nation. Sadly, the government which negotiated with Terrorists dispatched Soldiers and massacred defenseless youths, even while holding the Nigerian flag and singing the National Anthem.
‘I believe Tuesday 20th October, can be described as the darkest day in the year 2020 and a travesty of constitutionally guaranteed right to life, and the most profound surprise of all is the stoic silence of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.’
Meanwhile, a northern group has accused politicians of sponsoring the ongoing protests. The group called Citizens Action for Good Governance (CAGG) said those behind such must be prosecuted.
The group’s National Coordinator, Nazir Galadanchi, said: ‘It is of grave concern that some political leaders have been desperately positioning themselves to profit from the protests, including engaging in grandstanding, playing to the gallery and making reckless and unhelpful utterances.
‘We would like to appeal to our fellow Nigerians, especially young people to halt the protests for their safety because their demands are already being attended to by the government, and we are optimistic that there will be a better life for all.
‘We appeal to leaders and persons of influence, including celebrities and religious leaders, to persuade their followers and fans to discontinue the protests as there has been criminal infiltration in the protests with what is happening recently.’