Nigerian editors, Lawyers condemn unwarranted shooting, killing of unarmed protesters

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NIGERIA: The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned in very strong terms the unwarranted shooting and killing of unarmed protesters by security men in different parts of the country.

The NGE demands that President Muhammadu Buhari should address the nation to calm frayed nerves. There is nothing wrong in actively engaging in dialogue with the aggrieved youths.

In a statement on Wednesday in Lagos, the NGE sympathised with the victims of the shootings and their families and called for full scale investigation of Tuesday mayhem across the nation, especially the killings and injuries inflicted on protesters at the Lekki, Toll Plaza in Lagos, where security personnel shot and killed some unarmed protesters before the commencement of curfew at 9pm.

The NGE noted that there was no need whatsoever for security personnel to use live bullets and therefore, demanded that those found culpable should be brought to justice.

“The NGE is worried over the dramatic turn the #EndSARS peaceful protests have taken.

“The body of editors welcomes the curfew imposed on some states following the apparent hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests by hoodlums. The Guild commends the efforts of these state governments to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“The Guild notes that the restriction of movement in parts of the country does not give law enforcers any right to harass and intimidate persons on essential duties, especially journalists who are on the frontline in the discharge of their constitutional duty of gathering, processing and disseminating information,” it said.

It condemned the attacks on security personnel, their facilities, public infrastructure and private businesses and called on the government to rein in the miscreants hiding under the #EndSARS protests to perpetrate mayhem on innocent Nigerians.

The body of editors commends the state governments that have set up panels of enquiry to investigate allegations of police brutality, especially the atrocities committed by operatives of the now- disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

The NBA President, Olumide Akpata, faulted the incident in a statement personally signed by him on Tuesday hours after the incident.

A team of armed security personnel had stormed the Lekki toll gate – where a series of protests had held peacefully – and fired live bullets at a crowd of youths there.

“The Military High command is hereby requested to immediately identify and name the officers involved in this gross professional misconduct for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws,” Akpata said.

“The NBA shall immediately commence legal proceedings at all relevant fora – both locally and internationally – against the Nigerian military and other relevant authorities, on behalf of the families of the victims, for abuse of power, disregard of rules of engagement and the infringement of the fundamental rights (including the right to life) of the affected citizens,” he said.

Akpata explained that given the degenerating nature of the crisis, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the NBA would be convened within the next 48 hours.

According to him, the meeting is to review the state of the nation and take other appropriate steps to decisively deal with the situation and prevent Nigeria from further going adrift.