Rights group condemns use of live bullets on protesters in Abuja
By Akindele Obe
Police fire live bullets at #ENDSARs protesters in Abuja today, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has said.
The group said police shot at hundreds of protesters today during protests at the National Assembly.
RULAC said it received troubling information that Police operatives shot live bullets at peaceful protesters this morning in front of the national assembly, Abuja and arrested 5 persons including a Sahara Reporters reporter who was covering the protest.
The statement signed by RULAC Executive Director, Okey Okechukwu and made available to Irohinoodua stated “If police officers will continue to use live bullets to disperse peaceful protests, it clearly shows that no lessons have been learnt from the #EndSARS protests and the events following it. The use of lethal force on peaceful and unarmed protesters is illegal, disproportionate, unprofessional and a premeditation to kill and add to the growing number of unresolved extrajudicial killings by security forces in Nigeria.”
Okechukwu said police is a higher calling and officers should act with responsibility, with high standards, devoid of malice or vengeance.
He said “Is this the police officers’ understanding of the Inspector-General of Police’s recent directive to them to use their weapons to defend themselves when in danger? What danger did those police officers face to warrant the use of live bullets?”
RULAC wondered if this also be a foretaste of what to expect from the warning by the Lagos State Police command that it will not tolerate any further protests in Lagos State.
:Peaceful protests are legitimate means of exercise of freedom of expression, guaranteed by Nigeria’s Constitution and by regional and international human rights instruments that Nigeria subscribes to. By using State violence to repress freedoms, the Nigerian governmen is violating its obligation to give vent to the exercise and enjoyment of human rights by citizens and to respect and protect citizens’ fundamental rights. Under no circumstances can government curtail human rights except as prescribed by law” Okechukwu said.
According to him the government will be perceived as paying only lip service to police reform if, while it has empanelled inquires across the states into past cases of police brutality, it still allows security agencies to use excessive force to commit more acts of brutality.
He said “This is why citizens can’t trust government. What government should be doing at this juncture is confidence building rather than engage in or condone acts that lend credence to citizens attitude of cynicism and doubt about its sincerity to end police brutality and ensure accountability for past atrocities.”
RULAAC also called on the Federal Government to give a directive to the Inspector General of Police to ensure respect and protection of the rights and dignity of citizens, that no more life must be lost and that those responsible for the excessive use of force to repress peaceful protests are brought to book.