From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a presidential aspirant of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for 2023 elections, Kingsley Moghalu, has reacted to the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which affirmed that peaceful Nigerian citizens protesting police brutality were massacred at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos a year ago.
In a statement he personally signed, Moghalu, said the individuals in the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force who gave the unlawful orders for the extrajudicial killings as well as those who pulled the trigger must pay for their crimes with prosecution and imprisonment.
‘As I said when the news of the killings broke to the world, these are violations of international humanitarian law in addition to national laws. This was mass murder and attempted mass murder, pure and simple. The perpetrators must not go free, and adequate restitution which also is within the mandate of the judicial panel must be made to all the protesters who were murdered in cold blood, injured or assaulted,’ he said.
‘As a United Nations official in the mid-1990s, I trained Cambodian and Croatian security institutions in human rights standards to prevent the kind of extrajudicial killings and police brutality that occurred at Lekki and which the #EndSARS protests confronted. Nigeria has turned into a country marked by an increasing rise of official lawlessness, arbitrariness and repression of its citizens by agencies of the Government. This does not behove a country that claims to be a democracy. Root and branch reform of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force on respect for the human rights of Nigerian civilians remains urgently needed. It must not only be declared as done or as a rhetorical objective. It must be seen to have happened going forward.
‘President Muhammadu Buhari should take responsibility as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces for the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre. He must ensure and enforce accountability for this heinous crime by troops and other security agents under his ultimate command. At the very least, in addition to judicial accountability for the victims, he and his Government owe the families of the victims and Nigerians, in general, a formal and unreserved apology for this tragic occurrence.
‘I offer my heartfelt condolences once again to the families of the deceased victims of the Lekki Massacre. October 20, 2020, was a day that will live in infamy in the history of Nigeria. May the blood of our youth shed by those whose duty it was to protect their lives not have been spilt in vain. May this kind of tragedy never happens again in our land,’ Moghalu stated.