Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for the dismissal and prosecution of Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, for denying the killing of EndSARS protesters by military at Lekki toll gate.
“Juxtaposing with the crime of holocaust denial the brazen denial of the obvious evidence that there was indeed a Massacre at the Lekki tollgate Lagos on October 20th 2020 as made variously by the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, HURIWA has advocated his dismissal, arrest and trial for his egregious falsehood which has now been contradicted by a judicial panel of investigators in Lagos,” the civil rights advocacy group said in a statement on Tuesday.
HURIWA hinged its call on the issuance of a conclusive judicial report and verdict by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of investigations on the massacre in Lekki last year in which the commission indicted the Nigerian Army over shooting of protesters.
“Besides, HURIWA recalled that the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on Lekki tollgate shooting Incident and Cases of Police Brutality as well as human rights violations has indicted the Nigerian Army and the Police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki Toll gate in 2020.
“The 309-page report, obtained by Vanguard, detailed how the Army and Police disregarded their rules of engagement during the protest.
” The report in its executive summary, said: ‘The panel in its report found that on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Gate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed, helpless and defenseless protesters without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre.
“The panel also found that the conduct of the Nigerian Army was exacerbated by its refusal to allow ambulances render medical assistance to victims who required such assistance. The Army was also found not to have adhered to its own Rules of Engagement,” the rights group said.
HURIWA recalled that Lai Mohammed stridently claimed that there was no evidence to show that any protester was killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
” He stated this during a press conference held in Abuja as young people took to the streets nationwide to mark the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.
” HURIWA recalled too that Mohammed also faulted the claim by Amnesty International that no fewer than 12 protesters were killed in Lagos State by security operatives during the EndSARS protest.He described the claim as a ‘phantom’. He also asked the Cable News Network (CNN), DJ Switch among others to “apologize for misleading the world that there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate and for portraying the Nigerian military, police and other security agencies in a bad light.
“But as there has emerged undisputed evidence that indeed there was systematic annihilation of many civilians protesters in Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State last October, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is asking the President Muhammadu Buhari as a biological father of many well educated children, to order the arrest and prosecution of his minister of information Lai Mohammed for committing a grave and heartless offence that is equivalent to the denial of the Holocaust of the 6 million Jews by Adolf Hitler which is punishable by nearly half a century of incarceration.
“HURIWA is also commending the brave members and Chairperson of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the #ENDSARS PROTESTS especially the circumstances surrounding the massive cases of extrajudicial killings by the Army and armed police when these armed forces opened fire with lethal weapons targeted at the unarmed protesters,” HURIWA said.
The Rights group also called on the President not to sweep the lawlessness of the security agencies under the carpets just as it said if the Buhari allows his information minister to get away with the impunity of denying the massacre that happened before the eyes of the World captured live on video cameras, then he will be remembered long after he has retired from public office as a dictator who oversaw the genocide of young protesters and the generations unborn will never forgive him for this.
“President Muhammadu Buhari must note that as a Father of many Children he needs to ensure that impunity is never tolerated especially the extrajudicial killings of very youngsters of Nigeria by the Army just for protesting police brutality,” HURIWA affirmed.