A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana is blaming the State and its security agency for “serial violations of the constitutional provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” with reference to the botched EndSARS/#OccupyLekkiToll Gate protest in Lagos last Saturday.
Falana on Thursday further cited other violations of the human rights laws discountenance by the state and its agency.
This insight was given at a live Facebook discussion steered by Ajibola Hamzat of the International Center For Investigative Journalism, ICIR, against the background of the harassment of protesters of the botched EndSARS/#OccupyLekkiToll Gate protest.
Falana explained that rather than prevent the protest, the onus on the government and its security apparatus was to comply with the Police Act 2020, “which equally provides that during protest, the police should protect the protesters.”
He said alternatively, the police could have proceeded to court if it has a reason as cited by Section 45 of the Nigeria Constitution.
He stressed, “the police has to go to court.”
Falana highlighted, “But what we have seen is that the police failed to protect.”
Giving further perspective, the human rights lawyer said, “COVID-19 was breached not the protesters but government.”
He pointed out, “These guys came with their masks and were going to the venue, the police grabbed them and threw them into the Black Maria.”
He stated that serial violations of the human rights of the young men and women were perpetrated, further hinting that the charges against them “cannot stand because no peace was breached by the protesters,” he said.
Also lending voice to the virtual engagement, Rinu Oduala, one of the youths representatives and a staunch believer in the struggle to end police brutality decried the treatment meted to the protesters in an efforts to get them to stations and court, not sparing lawyers some hustles.
She was appalled to see that the passers-by and protesters were harassed and ‘sardined’ in a vehicle and a Lekki Concession Company, LCC Enforcement Black Maria while being transported away from the protest venue.
Rinu further expressed some distrust for government interventions on how solutions is being proffered to address the demands of the youths.
She said, “I do not think the government is ready to work with the youth.
She queried thus, “Who determines what is necessary for peaceful protesters? The constitution empowers citizens to protest, if it is necessary or not, the decision to protect is the necessity.”
She opined, “I think the more Nigerian youths are being deprived of their rights, I think their will is being made stronger.”
“We are not getting tired anytime soon. We are seeing through farce.
“Look at Anambra and Enugu panels, they have not been funding them.”
“Some protesters have not been released despite the call for immediate release, one of the five points agenda of EndSARS.”
Rommy Mom, Commissioner for human rights Police Service Commission, advocated for a decentralization of the Police Service Commission.
He expressed optimism in the disciplinary mechanism of the PSC, if adequate resources are provided and offices made present across 774 local government areas of the country.
He was of the view that such measure will prompt disciplining of erring officers.
He however said there are lessons to be gleaned from the EndSARS protest. “You have to applaud the way it was organised, that is how a country has to be organised. That is how the youths could be engaged and use their knowledge. I think we can borrow from that.”
One of the expected panelists, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Police Spokesperson, Lagos State Command however could not participate in the conversation themed; “EndSARS Protests, PoIice Brutality and Nigerians‘ Right to Protest,” as he sent words to the organiser of the event that he was on an assignment he could not get away from to attend.