#EndSARS: Kill Protesters, Face International Criminal Court, Falana-led Group tells Buratai

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Femi Falana, SAN
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#EndSARS: Kill Protesters, Face International Criminal Court, Falana-led Group tells Buratai

A coalition of civil society groups, Alliance for Survival COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has cautioned that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai or any of his men risks facing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague should any of the #EndSARS protesters be killed.

The coalition gave the warning, on Sunday, in a release signed by its chairman, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), urging the Federal Government to withdraw plans to use soldiers to quell the protests that had rocked major cities across the country.

The protest which began about a week ago peaked at the weekend when some Northern cities joined the movement.

The civil society groups urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to invite soldiers to resolve a purely democratic issue that calls for dialogue and constructive engagement, saying protests had common features across the world as seen in other countries, including Hong Kong, United States (US), France, South Africa, Belarus and even in Sudan.

According to Falana, in no instance in the countries listed has soldiers being deployed to suppress the protesters, warning: “Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history.”

He reminded the Federal Government that Operation Crocodile Smile had since been declared illegal by Nigerian Court with competent jurisdiction, following legal actions filed by him, adding that efforts by the Chief of Army Staff to challenge the order by approaching the Court of Appeal met a brick wall.

ASCAB said every bullet that goes out from the barrel of the gun, is owned by the people of Nigeria, positing that it was a crime under international law to release these bullets with the hope of taking human life, just as it described as unfortunate that the Nigerian government was sending a signal to the military that it had a role to play in a purely civil matter.

The group said it was already monitoring and compiling lists of all rights extra-judicial killings associated with the protests and that any of the top personnel and men of the military involved in any killings would be held personally responsible at the ICC in the Hague.

Speaking further, ASCAB said peaceful protests were the only way Nigerians were entitled under the Nigerian constitution to register their grievances against a system that suffocates them, warning that the plan to deploy soldiers was dangerous as it would push the country “into the red light district of global reckoning.”

“Sending soldiers after school children and leaders of tomorrow shows what future we anticipate for the teeming population of young men and women who have taken to the streets to protest against a system that buries their dreams and shatter their potentials and aspirations,” ASCAB further warned.

The coalition, while further urging President Buhari not to call soldiers out to quell to protests, maintaining that the exercise was legitimate under the country’s constitution, noted that the few cases of violence were associated with armed thugs disrupting the protests coupled with the shooting of protesters by security operatives.

According to it, the protests were against symptoms of a system defect, institutional corruption and political exclusion, saying sadly that over N250bn, which “is voted as security vote for the 36 state governors annually was enough to retrain and reenergize the police towards effective performance.”

“Unfortunately, the funds are taken by the state governors as largesse which they never account for,” it lamented.

ASCAB, however, urged the police authorities to bring to justice all officers and ratings associated with human rights violations in the command, declaring that policing in Nigeria needed transformation and not mere reforms and should go beyond a cosmetic and window dressing approach.

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