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U.S. requests investigation into killing of #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria

22 Oct 2020, 05:26 pm
Financial Nigeria
U.S. requests investigation into killing of #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria

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Pompeo said those involved in the killing should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in New York in 2018

The United States issued a statement on Thursday strongly condemning the use of excessive force by the Nigerian military forces who opened fire on unarmed protesters in Lagos on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. In a two-paragraph statement released by the United States Department of State, Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, called for an immediate investigation into the attack that led to the death of dozens of young people and hundreds of other youth severely injured.   

“The United States strongly condemns the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury,” said Pompeo. “We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces.”

According to an investigation by Amnesty International, the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters on Tuesday at the Lekki Toll Plaza and in Alausa, two of the major locations where thousands of young people have been gathering for about two weeks as part of a nationwide, non-violent #EndSARS protest, a movement that is calling for police reform and an end to police brutality.

The #EndSARS protest is the largest protest movement in Nigeria in decades. Amnesty International, which has also called for an investigation of the killing of protesters by the military, said at least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began on October 8, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone.

Pompeo said those involved in the killing should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law. While extending the U.S. government's condolences to the victims of the violence and their families, the Secretary of State also said the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are core democratic principles and fundamental human rights.

"We call on the security services to show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and for demonstrators to remain peaceful," said Pompeo.

In a letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which comprises of most African American members of the U.S. Congress, called on the Nigerian president to allow an independent investigation into the killings at the Lekki Toll Plaza. The CBC also urged the Nigerian government to provide justice for families of the victims of the recent protests against police brutality. It also called for a comprehensive reform of the Nigerian security sector.  

The letter, signed by congresswoman and Chair of CBC, Karen Bass, concluded, saying "we stand ready to support the reforms we hope that the Nigerian government will undertake, and that Nigeria needs."

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