Global activists, politicians and celebrities have called on President Muhammadu Buhari demanding justice for those allegedly attacked by police and who were jailed for taking part in #EndSARS protests across various parts of the country in October.
A co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi, was joined by singer Alicia Keys, actress Kerry Washington, climate activist Greta Thunberg, civil rights campaigner Angela Davis, US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, rapper Jidenna and others in signing an open letter calling for the ban on peaceful demonstrations to be lifted to “allow Nigerians exercise their constitutional right to protest.”
The 60 activists and celebrities, under the auspices of Diaspora Rising, asked President Buhari to release jailed protesters and journalists and to return confiscated passports and government IDs and to unfreeze bank accounts.
They urged him to allow a transparent investigation by human rights monitors into the actions that led to the horrific shooting at the Lekki tollgate and ensure the findings are published by media outfits accredited nationally and internationally. The signatories also called on the President to support peaceful demonstrations in any part of the country to allow citizens exercise their constitutional right to protest.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, your people sought to bring peace and justice to their land, and they made Africa and its diaspora proud in doing so,” read the letter, which was published as an advertisement in The New York Times on Thursday to coincide with International Human Rights Day. “Yet their peaceful requests were met with state-sanctioned violence and suppression, as your administration meted out unwarranted force against its own citizens.”
In October, waves of #EndSARS protesters took to the streets in cities and towns across Nigeria, calling for the disbandment of the country’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and an end to police brutality.
After the protests, the central bank obtained a 90-day court order freezing the accounts of those who took part in the demonstrations, according to media reports, while a journalist who covered the protests was arrested and detained for five days before being freed on bail.
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