Okwe Obi, Abuja
A coalition of 100 civil society organisations, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai, following the killing of unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State.
It asked President Buhari to further address the nation, suspend the launched of Operation Crocodile Smile, and urged soldiers to use non-kinetic approach to engage protesters
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the Leaders of Coalitions Against Injustice in Africa, Centre on Equity and Human Rights Africa, Action Against Bad Governance, Citizens Watch Forum, and Centre for Peace and Good Governance; Ibrahim Baba Khalid, Hassan Baba Khalid,; Prof P. O. Okeke, Kolawole Adesina, and Rev. Paul Kaigama, on behalf of others, on Wednesday
They said: “Our coalition, consisting of 100 civil society organizations after an extensive and painstaking deliberation on events trailing the protests, wish to express our disappointment on the orgy of violence that have trailed the protests so far in the country.
“More so, we wish to say that the launch of Operation Crocodile Smile by the Nigerian Army at a time like this was not the best. More so, the use of kinetic approach in engaging the protesters by men of the Nigerian Army was the most reprehensible.
“It is unfortunate that this action which is not acceptable in any form in a civil society regrettably resulted in killing of armless protesters at Lekki Tollgate, Lagos.
“This ugly development no doubt, has inflamed passion among the people and thus escalated tension in all parts of the country at the moment.
“The resultant effect of this is the ongoing destruction of private and public infrastructures across the country today.
“Having viewed the development closely,we wish to categorically condemned the action of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai.
“We call on President Muhammad Buhari,to as the Commander-In- Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, immediately order the immediate suspension of Operation Crocodile Smile. We urge him to follow this up with the sack of the Chief of Army Staff in particular and all the current service chiefs in general to pave way for a new and efficient security architecture.
“Like we observe, for Nigerians to trust the president and believe him that the soldiers acted on their own, he must not only immediately sack the Chief of Army Staff and all the officers concerned but also immediately hand them over for prosecution.
“We believe that taking this first step will calm frayed nerves and restore the peoples’ confidence once more in his ability to provide them the desired security.
“We urge the president to immediately constitute an independent judicial commission of inquiry made up of eminent Nigerians, the youths, civil society organizations, to investigate the killing of innocent Nigerian protesters demanding for reforms at Lekki Tollgate allegedly by soldiers from 65 battalion Nigeria Army with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
“We also ask that the president immediately constitute a fact-finding committee to ascertain the exact number of protesters that lost their lives and compensate families appropriately.
“On the other hand, we want the Nigerian youths to be focused on the struggle for a better Nigeria devoid of political leanings.
“They should refrain from destroying what we already have as a nation. Peaceful and non-violent protests have proven to be the most effective all over the world. It is the strength of democratic tenets.
“We call on the Federal Government to ensure genuine police reform as well as ensuring that the lives of the citizens and those living in Nigeria are safeguarded. The current situation should not be allowed to degenerate into anarchy.
“We also urge the security agencies to live up to their expectations in securing the country at this critical time of our nation’s history.”