A civil rights group, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIS (HURIWA), has accused the Nigerian government of plot to hire armed hoodlums to disrupt planned peaceful protest by youths at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos, at the weekend. The group warned the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, to stop threatening citizens planning to stage public protest at the Lekki Toll gates to over the reopening of the facility without justice to victims of the October 10, 2020 shooting at the scene.
The group alleged that the federal government had used same tactics during the October nationwide protests by the #EndSARS movement, noting that shortly after such public warning by federal government, armed hoodlums emerged from nowhere and violently attacked protesters, leading to dozens of casualties just as some of the armed hoodlums were caught on camera in Abuja being driven in black jeeps similar to those usually driven by Nigeria’s secret service police.
HURIWA, therefore, accused the federal government of attempting to use same methods to disrupt the planned peaceful protest on Saturday. The group called on the organised civil society community in Nigeria to petition President Joe Biden of the United States of America to call his attention to the open threats made surreptitiously by the federal government.
HURIWA also told the Information Minister that he would be held accountable should any citizen be killed or attacked. The group cautioned that the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, would be dragged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, Netherlands, in his personal capacity and charged for crimes against humanity should the security forces or armed hoodlums be motivated by his inciting and incendiary statement against the aggrieved youths planning to hold peaceful legal and constructive protests at the Lekki toll gates or if these armed security forces or hoodlums are unleashed on peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gates, Lagos.
HURIWA in a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, declared: “Let it be made known to Mr. Lai Mohammed that in this age and times, officials of government cannot hide under the cover of their offices to incite violence targeted at citizens who are only exercising their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms of association and peaceful assembly as specified under chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution.”
The group cited sections 39(1); 40, and 41 of the Nigerian constitution to affirm that the youths who planned to carry out peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll gates either in support or against the decision of the #EndSARS Judicial panel in Lagos to reopen the Toll gates, have the inalienable rights to so conduct peaceful protest.
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