Sixteen of the nation’s leading Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have warned against violent reprisal of #EndSARS peaceful protests, saying this constitute a dangerous assault on citizens’ Constitutional rights.
The CSOs are Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa), Enough is Enough (EIE), Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Information, Technology and Development (CITAD), and Yiaga Africa.
Others are Global Rights, Project Alert, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Paradigm Initiative, Rule of Law and Accountability Centre (RULAAC), HEDA Resource Centre, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Community Life Project (CLP), protest to Power; and Social Action.
They noted that in the last two weeks, the streets of Nigeria have been convulsing with protests and agitations over unaccountable policing in the country.
They insisted that these protests are legitimate, and young people who ignited the movement have a right to express their grievances using the weapon of protest.
According to them, while the #EndSARS is focused on the immediate concern of a brutish policing system, the protesters are also inherently voicing their anger against a governance system, which has failed to reckon with them.
They said that #EndSARS is, therefore, an affirmation of citizen’s readiness to resist bad governance in all its ramifications beginning with inadequate government response over the prolonged trend of police brutality.
“We affirm the validity of the protests, and the grievances driving the organization and mobilization of popular anger. Police brutality in particular, and the brutality of security, armed forces, and law enforcement agents towards citizens, in general, is a fact and a reality that cannot be contradicted.
“In this respect, we strongly condemn the thinly veiled threat issued by the Military High Command, wherein the unacceptable move is being made to crush the peaceful protests. Such a threat is ill-conceived in the face of legitimate citizens’ protest and a threat to constitutionally guaranteed rights. We call on the military to immediately withdraw its ill-advised attempt to undermine the constitutional freedom of citizens to voice their displeasure about the state of the country,” they said.
They added, “We reject in its entirety the move to draft in the military to quell the protests, even where there has been no violent conduct on the part of protesters. The Military should remain in their barracks and at their duty posts, defending the territorial integrity of the country, and not deployed in a dangerous anti-people and anti-democratic operation.”
They therefore demand that all those arrested during the ongoing protest be released unconditionally and that President Muhammadu Buhari should constitutes and summons an emergency and inaugural meeting of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC) provided for in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), in section 216, and whose composition and functions were clearly stated in Part III (Supplemental and interpretation), sections 27 & 28 of the same constitution.