BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – Worried over by the clampdown by security forces on #RevolutionNow protesters in Abuja and other parts of the country, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has vehemently condemned the brutal attacks on unarmed citizens.
SERAP noted that by failing to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks, the Buhari-led Federal Government has blatantly violated its obligations under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
It therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of national interest put an end to the use of excessive force against protesters and allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights.
The organisation in a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, pointedly urged the Buhari-led administration to stop criminalising peaceful protesters.
SERAP equally called on the presidency to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested, but to promptly investigate attacks on protesters, and identify the security agents suspected to be responsible and bring them to justice.
The organisation also urged the international community such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to publicly condemn attacks on peaceful protests and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to effectively investigate attacks on protesters, prosecute perpetrators and to respect and protect the human rights of everyone.
SERAP stressed that the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party guarantee the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly.
In the words of SERAP; “Nobody should be arrested or subjected to torture and ill-treatment simply for taking part in peaceful protests. The authorities should stop criminalising peaceful protesters.
“Rather than suppressing peaceful protests, the authorities ought to protect peaceful protesters and ensure a safe and enabling environment for people to exercise their constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“Nigerian authorities need to take seriously the protesters’ socio-economic grievances, including by immediately taking measures to genuinely fight grand corruption, and improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.
“The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials prohibit the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters,” SERAP said.
Reports monitored nationwide indicated that security forces attacked members of the #RevolutionNow that were on peaceful protests in Abuja, Osogbo and other parts of the country.
This was as the Department of State Services reportedly arrested Olawale Bakare and six other #RevolutionNow protesters wearing orange-coloured caps around Olaiya area of Osogbo, the Osun State capital just as several others reportedly arrested by the police and Army in Abuja.