*Appeals To Citizens To Remain Calm & Shun Violence
*Demands Immediate Release Of Persons Arrested For Looting COVID-19 Palliatives

Alliance on Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has condemned the military onslaught against #EndSARS protesters leading to the death of innocent and unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, noting that responsibility should be fully ascribed to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Coalition further stated that it shall set up an independent National Citizen’s Panel of Inquiry to probe the unfortunate killings, notwithstanding the one set up by the Lagos State Government.

The Coalition disclosed this in a press statement signed by ASCAB Interim National Chair, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN which was made available to TheNigeriaLawyer.

Meanwhile, the Coalition stated that although, not in support of citizens looting COVID-19 palliatives hoarded by various State Governments but however demands immediate release of arrested citizens as a result thereof, noting that they merely took what belong to them.

The full statement reads:

PRESS STATEMENT ON RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT GENERAL MEETING OF ASCAB’S AFFILIATES ON THE LEKKI MASSACRE OF PEACEFUL AND UNARMED PROTESTERS AND THE SUBSEQUENT RAGE OF CITIZENS

On 23rd October 2020, the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) held an Emergency Meeting of its affiliates on the state of the perilous state of the nation and resolved as follows:

1. ASCAB condemns the reprehensible, abominable, unacceptable and heinous killing in cold blood of yet unascertained number of unarmed protesters mowed down at the Lekki Toll Gate on 20th October 2020 by a detachment of the Nigerian Army.

2. ASCAB holds the Federal Government fully responsible for the killing of the unarmed peaceful protesters to the extent that only the President has the constitutional power to invite the armed forces in aid of civil authorities in the event of an insurrection. The peaceful protest acknowledged to be peaceful cannot be equated to an insurrection.

3. The denial of involvement of soldiers in the murderous attack of the unarmed protesters coupled with the mismanagement of information surrounding the attack led to a renewed wave of peaceful protests. Hundreds of lumpen elements otherwise hoodlums took advantage of the rein of terror that had been created by sponsored thugs to unleash mayhem in the society.

4. The Government and other interest groups that have blamed the social media for the revolt that has just been witnessed in the country have failed woefully to learn from history. ASCAB recalls that the brutal police killing of Kunle Adepeju at the University of Ibadan in 1971, Akintunde Ojo of the University of Lagos in 1978 and 4 students of the Ahmadu Bello University in 1986 led to a nationwide revolts in the country. Instead of prosecuting the indicted murder suspects the defunct military junta expelled student leaders and dismissed lecturers who were allegedly teaching what they were not paid to teach.

5. Under the military junta the security agencies recruited cultists to attack students who protested peacefully. In like manner, the security agencies engaged the services of sponsored thugs to attack peaceful protesters in Lagos and Abuja for about 12 days. It is such state sponsored thuggery that boomeranged as boys and girls who have been used and dumped by politicians turned the peaceful protests to a conflagration that engulfed the nation.

6. ASCAB is not unaware that the Lagos State Government has directed the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to probe allegations of police brutality to unravel the brutal attack on the peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate. ASCAB has however requested the Government to direct the Coroner to conduct an inquest into the circumstances surrounding the unnatural death of protesters.

7. Furthermore, ASCAB shall establish an Independent National Citizen’s Panel of Inquiry under the following conditions:

a.Composition: The Citizen’s Panel of Inquiry shall comprise:

i. Representatives of credible and identified organisations of the youth that took part in the #Endsars protest movement, including the Feminist Coalition, among others;

ii. Representatives of credible and tested civil society organisations.

b. Chair: The Citizen’s Panel of Inquiry shall be chaired by a respected and credible senior legal practitioner or a retired judge;

c. Secretariat: ASCAB shall provide secretariat support for the Panel;

d. Petitions: The Panel of Inquiry shall request and receive petitions from relatives of fallen heroes and other aggrieved persons whose fundamental rights have been abused in relation to the #endsars protest movement.

e. Forensic analysis: The Panel shall undertake forensic analysis of evidence received.

f. Compensation: The Panel shall recommend appropriate scale of compensation for dependents of victims of rights abuse.

g. Restorative Justice: The panel shall recommend appropriate forms of restorative justice with a view to making the perpetrators of abuse of citizens’ rights to take responsibility for their unconscionable behaviour and heal the emotional wounds of the victims and the society whose norms and values have been desecrated.

h. Honour: The Panel shall recommend appropriate Citizen’s Monuments to honour and immortalize the fallen heroes and heroines of the #Endsars movement.

i. Law, Policy and Institutional Reforms: The Panel shall make appropriate recommendations for comprehensive reforms, outlining constitutional, legislative,

welfare policy and institutional reforms that it deems fit to avert reoccurrence or to prescribe strict punitive consequences in the event of reoccurrence.

j. Pro-bono Law Suits: That ASCAB shall, on pro bono basis, undertake, on behalf of victims:

k. the filing of civil actions for compensation, and

l. Preparation of petitions for presentation before the Panels of Inquiry being set up by State authorities.

ON SOCIAL CONFLAGRATION AS CONSEQUENCE OF LEKKI MASSACRE

8. ASCAB observes that the social conflagration that occurred in several parts of Nigeria, involving destruction and looting of public and private buildings of some individuals could be attributed to the rage of ordinary people at the sad and wicked killing of unarmed peaceful protesters. However, ASCAB condemns violence in all its ramifications.

9. ASCAB appeals that citizens should not repay state terrorism by which the lives of unarmed peaceful protesters have been terminated with individual terrorism. Rather, we should collectively seek avenues and opportunities to resume collective peaceful mass actions to advance our interests, including insistence on bringing to justice, the killers of peaceful protesters at Lekki and elsewhere.

ON LOOTING OF COVID-19 PALLIATIVES

10. ASCAB observes with pain the revelations of the hoarding of COVID-19 palliative items by State Governments. The apologies tendered by some State Governments are unacceptable to the Nigerian people.

11. ASCAB therefore resolves that:

i. Though ASCAB does not support looting regardless of the status of the perpetrators, rich or poor, the real looters are the public officers who have been implicated in secretly warehousing COVID-19 palliatives, hoping and praying that they would never be discovered.

ii. While not supporting looting under any guise, those hungry citizens who besieged the locations where the COVID-19 palliative items were secretly kept and who were arrested should be released, without any further delay. The unemployed, hungry and angry persons who helped themselves with those items have merely taken what rightly belongs to them.

iii. Citizens and public officers who know where COVID-19 palliatives are being kept secretly should make the information available to ASCAB to enable ASCAB to mount pressure on public authorities to distribute same fairly and democratically to the needy.

iv. All those public officers in whose possession COVID-19 palliatives are found should be arrested and prosecuted.

v. Governments should desist from referring, derogatorily, to the uneducated, unemployed and homeless persons as “hoodlums”, as if they are not entitled to socio-economic rights. These categories of persons are a product of criminal neglect of their welfare rights by successive governments. What is required of governments is to develop appropriate policies to address their welfare and developmental needs. Neglecting them while placing public wealth at the disposal and support of business owners is not in the interest of sustainable societal development.

Femi Falana, SAN
Interim National Chair ASCAB

Practical Considerations to Negotiate an Enforceable Joint Operating Agreement in Civil Law Jurisdictions (Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2020) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, LL. B (1st Class), BL (1st Class), LL.M (Calgary), LL.M (Harvard), DPhil (Oxford), Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria, www.damilolaolawuyi.com. & Professor Eduardo G. Pereira, LL. B (Brazil), LL.M (Aberdeen), PhD (Aberdeen),www.eduardogpereira.com   

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