Nigerians Complain of Police Brutality on Peaceful Protesters

Protests in Nigeria. Photo: UN Human Rights
Protests in Nigeria. Photo: UN Human Rights

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday (October 21) condemned the use of excessive and disproportionate force by Nigerian armed forces in Lagos on Tuesday evening.

She called on the Nigerian authorities to take urgent steps to deal decisively with the underlying problem of persistent violations committed by the security forces, and make a far stronger effort to bring police and army personnel guilty of crimes against civilians to justice.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres also said he was closely following recent developments across Nigeria, in the wake of reports that protesters had been shot dead and wounded, and called for an end to reported police brutality and abuses.

Reports suggest that CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting and the deplorable attacks by the security forces on peaceful protesters. The attacks were premeditated, planned, and coordinated.

Nigeria was already at boiling point before this shooting because of the revelations about years of unchecked violence, including alleged killings, rape, extortion, and other violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“While the authorities have now dissolved SARS and announced a series of inquiries at both Federal and State levels, there have still been few, if any, charges leveled against its members despite abundant evidence against various members of the squad, as well as members of other security forces and the army,” the UN Human Rights Chief said.

Apparently, many Nigerians do not trust the inquiries and other measures that have been announced by the authorities, and have continued to take to the streets in several cities to protest.

Bachelet said the way to restore trust and bring back peace to the streets of Nigeria is for the authorities to take immediate concrete steps to show they are genuinely committed to tackling impunity, after years of inaction.

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Rakesh Raman