United Kingdom lawmakers are now bound to discuss Nigeria’s alleged reign of police brutality on its citizens.
A petition on the UK government’s website which could only be signed by UK residents has now crossed the 100,000 signatures threshold meaning the parliament must discuss it and provide a public response including possible sanctions.
“The government should explore using the new sanctions regime that allows individuals and entities that violate human rights around the world to be targeted, to impose sanctions on members of the Nigerian government and police force involved in any human rights abuses by the Nigerian police,” the petition created by one Silas Ojo reads.
Ojo created the petition after Nigeria’s security agents, including soldiers and police officers, allegedly opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in Lekki area of Lagos on Tuesday night. There were similar reports from Mushin area of the state.
The unarmed Nigerians were, on the platform of EndSARS, protesting against police brutality and calling for comprehensive reform of law enforcement.
Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu imposed a 24-hour curfew but demonstrators vowed to remain on the streets. Before night fell at Lekki tollgate where protesters were gathered, officials allegedly sent by the government were seen removing security cameras from the venue.
Around 7pm, the authorities cut power supply to the area, jammed the internet and opened fired on demonstrators, observers alleged.
The number of those killed or injured was not immediately clear. Reports say seven people were killed and there are fears the toll could rise if those wounded succumb to their injuries in hospital. There were allegations that Nigerian soldiers seized and went away with some corpses.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who is considered the chief security officer of Lagos State, said he did not know who ordered the violent clampdown on the protesters promising to investigate the alleged massacre.
“This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger,” Sanwo-Olu said after visiting victims of the reported shooting in hospital.
Under Nigerian law, President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who now calls himself a “reformed democrat”, has the power to deploy soldiers. But the Nigerian Army has denied executing the alleged Lekki massacre, calling it “fake news”.
Buhari’s ally and former Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu said earlier in the day that the president could justifiably use force to quell the protests which he said was being hijacked by thugs.
But critics say the thugs were being sponsored by state agents to discredit the peaceful demonstrations and provide a pretext for deploying force against Nigerians.
US Democratic party presidential candidate Joe Biden and former secretary of states Hillary Clinton condemned the alleged human rights violations.