The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) has been following the unfolding events and the escalating violence in Nigeria over the past two days. CSVR unreservedly condemns the police brutality and human rights violations by law enforcement officials in Nigeria in response to the unarmed protests demanding an end to police brutality.
Over the last few days, young Nigerians have embarked on a campaign demanding an end to police brutality and the disbandment of the "Special Anti-Robbery Squad". The #EndSars campaign against police brutality attracted high profile as well as international support. However, in Nigeria, the campaign has drawn the ire of the state as security forces opened fire at the protestors, causing numerous fatalities.
Various media reports have shown that on the 20th October 2020, Nigerian law enforcements disconnected CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate and opened fire with live ammunition on unarmed protestors.
Over the last few days, the #EndSARS protesters across the country have maintained a peaceful stance in their protest. It is therefore reprehensible that the government has met this display of civil discipline with unrestrained violence.
Ms. Nomfundo Mogapi, CSVR Executive Director called for an end to violence in Nigeria and pledged CSVR's support for the people of Nigeria. She said: "It is unfortunate that citizens are brutalized by the very same government and the officials tasked with keeping them safe, for exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed and protected rights to peacefully and freely assemble, and in the year when Africa has committed to silencing the guns on the continent. As CSVR, we support the people of Nigeria and we offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and victims of these heinous acts"
CSVR calls on to the AU to act on its campaign on "Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020", which aims to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.
CSVR further appeals to the AU member states who were most vocal in their support of #BlackLivesMatter against police brutality in the United States of America, to rally behind their own citizens in Africa, and raise their voices once again, condemning the police brutality, flagrant abuse of rights and loss of life of Nigerian citizens exercising their right to protest. CSVR appeals to the African Union Member States to publicly condemn the escalating violence in Nigeria, and the serious threats posed by these acts, to the security and safety of Nigerian citizens.
CSVR calls for an investigation of these grave human rights violations to be conducted expeditiously, transparently and impartially to serve the interests of justice and facilitate redress for victims.
We stand in solidarity with every Nigerian who has raised their voice to demand for urgent police reform, the end of police brutality, bad governance in Nigeria, and the disbandment of the notorious SARS unit.
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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.