The Committee For The Defence Of Human Rights (CDHR) has described the Lekki Tollgate Massacre of unarmed #EndSARS protestors by Nigerian troops as a cowardly act by brutes and a crime against humanity.
The human rights group, known for its major role in the Nigerian pro-democracy movement and long struggle to end military dictatorship in the country, said this in a statement signed by its President Osagie Obayuwana in Benin City on Wednesday, October 21.
CDHR said: “They knew the Protesters were unarmed, and that the combat would be unequal. They marched like the brutes that they are into the ranks of Patriots who had nothing but their passion for change; change for accountability in their country Nigeria.
“They waited for when the sun would have long gone down, and chose the cover of pitch darkness. They put out all flicker of light, street lights and all.
“The patriotic call of the Protesters was for an end to Police brutality fostered by a long history of impunity. The essential demand was for good governance. With assault rifles, they massacred the Patriots, mostly youths, male and female without discrimination.
“To the brutes, the justification for the dastardly massacre was the violation of a curfew, but we ask, which law provides the death penalty for violation of a curfew?
“It is clear to us that what the brutes found objectionable was the resilience of the Protesters, the contents of their demands, and the audacity to make their views known.
“The brutes expected the Patriots to accept promises that for years have not been kept. They brutishly allowed vain glory and their sense of importance as temporary holders of public office to overrun any semblance of rationality and good judgement. They chose to silence the voices of uncountable patriots in pitch darkness on 20th October, 2020 at Lekki Toll-Gate in Lagos, Nigeria.
“They derived ancillary justification from the protests of those they call miscreants and hoodlums, who earlier in the day had violently reacted to the unjustifiable killing of some of their compatriots, and who understandably had set ablaze Orile Police Station.
“They blame the Patriots at Lekki for the reaction of those they call miscreants and hoodlums; they argue that the Protesters at Lekki and Alausa provided the enabling environment for the protest which they acknowledged to be peaceful and justified, to be hijacked by those they refer to as unreasonable elements, who they feel at liberty to eliminate wholesale.
“They conveniently forget that these elements, poor, illiterate and unemployed as they are, are a creation of the uncaring system being run in Nigeria. They refuse to accept that in their reaction, the poor, illiterate, unemployed and generally homeless people they categorize as undesirable elements, feel justified in what they consider an inhumane resistance of the ruling class to the change imperative, long overdue , that will benefit all.
“The Brutes, through their attack dogs, the Soldiers, held the Lekki Protesters responsible, and imagined that the killings at Lekki would stop the protest. But we of the CDHR dare proclaim, that ours is a voice that cannot be silenced, and that the issues, despite the killings, will not go away.
“We despise and condemn wholeheartedly the resort of Government Functionaries and Security Operatives to the instigation and arming of unemployed youths to engage in violent counter-protests in Lagos, Abuja, Benin and other places. We condemn equally the attempt to deliberately infuse ethnic and religious divisions into the ranks of the victims of misrule in Nigeria.
“We acknowledge that those who profit from misrule of Nigeria and Nigerians are a negligible few. We call on the rank and file of the Police and the Army to appreciate their historic duty, to team up with the long-suffering people of Nigeria who are the vast majority, to refuse henceforth to kill hapless victims, play their historic role and insist on the change that will move Nigeria forward for the benefit of all its people.
“Meanwhile, for the Brutes who carried out the cowardly Lekki Toll-Gate Massacre, and committed the most heinous crime against humanity,we demand an arraignment before the International Criminal Court of Justice. We hold them and their collaborators responsible for all the killings across Nigeria since the commencement of the Nigerian People’s #ENDSARS revolt 2020.
“As the killings by themselves cannot take away the Nigerian people’s entitlement to fight for their rights, we daresay that there is no option other than for the struggle to continue, until the sovereign will of the Nigerian people is upheld.
“What is at stake is the enjoyment by all Nigerians, especially those who have historically been denied of our civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. In this regard, we are assured that victory is certain, no matter how long it takes.”