By Robert Egbe
Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) Dr. Babatunde Ajibade and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa Wednesday condemned Tuesday’s shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
In separate statements, they said such action was inexcusable and called on the government to stay the hand of the military from further assaults.
The protests are part of the near nationwide demonstrations against police brutality which began about two weeks ago.
Scores of the injured are being treated at government and private hospitals around Lagos, while there are also unofficial reports of several fatalities.
Using the hashtag #ENDBADGOVERNANCEINNIGERIA, Ajibade described the shooting as evidence of bad and irresponsible governance.
He said: “There is no justifiable excuse for the use of live ammunition by security agents on protesting youths at Lekki Toll Gate. This is a new low in the level of bad governance that we are witnessing in this country.
“This action more than anything else establishes the lack of sincerity in the lip service government has paid to the #ENDSARS movement.
“How can a civilised nation authorise the use of live ammunition on unarmed protesters? How can execution without arrest, trial, or conviction be the penalty for breaching a curfew.”
He demanded that the government exercise maximum restraint, “no matter the level of the perceived provocation. This is completely unacceptable and an act of bad and irresponsible governance.”
Adegboruwa said he was “heartbroken”, adding that the shootings were “barbaric”.
He said: “It is unacceptable to open fire on armless and defenceless citizens. Reports of shooting by soldiers at Lekki Toll Gate is most barbaric and unacceptable. These protesters have been the most orderly, most organized, and most peaceful so far.
“These are children holding nothing but the flags of their nation. What the security should have done was to go to the zones of violence and wanton destruction and stop the thugs and criminals, not these innocent children.
“Even though we identify with the government on the need to restore law and order, there are other means to do that without resorting to using live bullets on these future leaders.
“To think that the protest itself was against police brutality.”
Adegboruwa urged the protesters to comply with the curfew “in demonstration of their commitment to the rule of law and due process.
“I urge the security to cease further assault on the protesters. The government must identify all those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The views of constitutional lawyer Jiti Ogunye were similar.
In a post on Facebook, Ogunye said: “Under no circumstances should lethal weapons have been used at Lekki Toll Gate to disperse, let alone kill, unarmed peaceful protesters.
“It is inhuman, cruel, and against national and international laws. This is a gross violation of international standards on proportionality of force in breaking civil unrest.
A former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Monday Ubani went spiritual on the matter.
Ubani said: “Those who planned and executed the killings of those innocent men and women at Lekki axis have imposed perpetual curse upon themselves and generations unborn, mark my words.”
In a statement on Tuesday, NBA President Olumide Akpata asked the Nigerian Army to immediately identify the soldiers who carried out the attack and dismiss them from service.
He said the association would immediately commence legal actions against the Nigerian government and the Army at both international and local fora.
He said the suits would be initiated by the NBA 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.