UK Parliamentarians Propose Sanctions Against Violators Of Protesters’ Rights
The United Kingdom parliamentarians yesterday recommended sanctions against government officials and security agents who abused the rights of #EndSARS demonstrators last month.
The UK lawmakers, while considering a petition signed by 220, 000 signatories in the aftermath of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, expressed lack of confidence in Nigeria’s handling of the incident and vowed to launch an independent investigation to unravel the circumstances of the alleged shooting.
The parliamentarians passed the resolutions the same day the federal government wrote to the United States-based global television station, Cable News Network (CNN), over last Wednesday’s airing of a report on the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20.
During its plenary yesterday the parliamentarians condemned the alleged attack on unarmed persons at Lekki Tollgate by the Nigerian Army, pointing out that the proposed sanctions should not be mere rhetoric but must be carried out sooner than later.
The lawmakers said: “No action can replace the lives that have been lost, but that doesn’t mean we cannot take actions.
“We know that these individuals come here and use our banks, so we are in a unique position to do something.”
In the petition started by one Silas Ojo, a Nigerian, the petitioners charged the UK government to impose sanctions on individuals in the Nigerian government and police officers involved in human rights abuses.
The debate was opened by MP Theresa Villiers, a member of the Petitions Committee, opening the floor for other MPs from all parties to make their contributions.
The parliament did not just debate the #EndSARS protest and its violent aftermath; they also briefly touched on the Oyigbo killings in Rivers State and perceived persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
Expressing concern about what happened in Nigeria, the parliamentarians condemned the shooting of unarmed protesters, the subsequent crackdown on #EndSARS promoters and the sanction on three Nigerian television stations.
Demanding accountability for those responsible for such brutality and loss of lives during and after the protests, they called for independent investigations into the violations by Nigerian police, security and military forces.
They noted that it would have been better if they had confidence in the system of investigations in Nigeria, adding that with the ongoing failures of government in dealing with #EndSARS, many do not have faith in that process.
Setting a distinction between the looters and hoodlums from the actual peaceful protesters, they condemned the actions of the government that followed the protest, including the recent action by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, who tagged the CNN investigation into the Lekki Tollgate shooting as fake.
On the now disbanded SARS, the parliamentarians said although the Nigerian government had claimed it ended SARS, corruption and brutality continued, adding that the UK government committed some money from the £10 million that went to Nigeria to training SARS, which still went ahead to become immoral.
They accused the Nigerian government of taking part in the attempted cover-up of the alleged Lekki Tollgate shooting and charged the government to stop freezing accounts of protesters.
Demanding that the government protects the right of Nigerians to protest, they also demanded accountability from the Nigerian government.
Intermittently referring to the shooting by the Nigerian Army at Lekki Tollgate as “massacre,” they insisted that the protesters were peaceful.
One of the MPs that stood out in his contribution was Coventry North West MP, Taiwo Owatemi, and a Nigerian, who queried if Nigeria was a dictatorship.
Backing the sanctions against individuals in government and justice for victims, he queried why “armed military officers discharged live ammunition at peaceful protesters, injuring and killing them. Who exactly ordered the military to shoot live ammunition in a civilian territory? Why were bank accounts of individuals who partook in the protest frozen?”
Also speaking, MP Teresa Pearce said: “I have been contacted by dozens of people who want to see action to ensure that human rights are upheld in Nigeria. It is not enough to just put out a statement of condemnation.”
MP Stephen Doughty, representing Cardiff South and Penarth, he repeatedly condemned the attack on unarmed protesters.
MP Kate Osamor representing Edmonton, another Nigerian, said the UK should not be a safe haven for government officials who deny their own citizens the same freedom they come to enjoy in the UK.
MP Lyn Brown stated: “My plea is that we stand with the young people of Nigeria who are demanding change far beyond the closure of SARS.”
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