Some Nigerians have asked the United States Government to impose heavy sanctions on President Muhammadu Buhari and other top officials of his administration for carrying out rights violations against citizens.
The calls follow the recent killing of many EndSARS protesters in Lagos and other parts of the country by security operatives and also the ongoing persecution of persons, who participated in and supported the peaceful demonstrations across Nigeria.
On Wednesday, the Nigerian Government came under fire for tagging #EndSARS campaigners as terrorists with prominent citizens and groups condemning the Central Bank of Nigeria for freezing the bank accounts of 20 participants in the protest.
A wave of street protests swept across Nigeria in October as young people poured out to demand an end to police brutality and bad governance in the country.
In a bid to break the peaceful demonstrations, the government sent in armed thugs and security operatives, who unleashed terror on the people.
The climax came on October 20 when the Lagos State Government drafted in soldiers of the Nigerian Army to attack demonstrators at the Lekki Toll Gate area of the state.
According to Amnesty International, over 10 persons lost their lives following the attack by the soldiers.
A Judicial Panel of Inquiry has been established by the Lagos Government to unravel the incident of October 20 and brutality by personnel of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Urging the US Government to punish Buhari, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and others, who played active roles in killing and abusing the rights of citizens, the young Nigerians said that was part of the best ways justice could served.
Rights activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerian, an advocacy group, Deji Adeyanju, said that rights violations and crimes against the Nigerian people by the Buhari administration must not go unpunished.
He said, “The government has carried out several human rights violations against citizens in the country from killing of Shiites, who were protesting the massacre of over a thousand of them, attack on their leaders, destructions of their worship homes, killing of members of IPOB to the killing of #EndSARS protesters in Lekki and attacks constantly unleashing pro-government thugs on protesters here in the FCT, in Lagos.
“I have been beaten several times. Arresting journalists, arresting human rights defenders like myself and several people — arresting and jailing people for their views on social media, these are all anti-democratic acts which I believe should come with sanctions and I believe the greater sanction which the United States of America can do is not to encourage our government to continue to clampdown on the civic space because if they do, the civic space which is already shrunk will continue to shrink further.
“Again we must ensure that the tenets of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press — you can see how they have been using the NBC to clampdown on media houses in the country; now there is an attempt to regulate social media and other anti-democratic vices.
“Our development partners the US, UK, EU must act in a way that sends a clear message that those who do not support democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and all these fundamental freedoms will face sanctions and not just with visa ban but with economic sanctions, freezing of assets, they must block assets for borrowing loans because that is what this government is habitual for. They must stop to send them weapons.
“People are jailed for no reason — look at the #EndSARS protesters that have just been released who spent days in Suleja Prison. Several journalists were jailed, Agba Jalingo was arrested. Jones Abiri was locked up in prison for two years for doing virtually nothing.
“There are so many people who are in DSS detention facilities who we don’t even know their names. Look at the extra-judicial killings done by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad so these are crimes that must not go unpunished.”
Tor Terver, a student, who participated in the #EndSARS protest, said it was shameful that the Nigerian Government was enabling terrorist but repressing peaceful demonstators and called for punishment of those at the helm of affairs.
He said, “I participated in the Markurdi protest and I was almost arrested even though we were peaceful. This is the same Nigerian Government that does graduation for Boko Haram members, what did we do wrong? This is a thing of disgrace.
“So what I will say to Mr Joe Biden is that he should really focus on Nigeria, like during Obama time which I believe he was a part of. Visa ban not just for them but for their families because that’s the only way they will feel the heat — they cannot be destroying things here but enjoying what the founding fathers of America laboured for so I hope things change with this new government.”
A civil servant, who only wanted to be identified as Mrs Henrriata, urged America’s President-elect, Biden, to ensure his administration considers military intervention in troubled spots across the country.
“Buhari is incompetent, Buratai is incompetent and we all know this but the problem is that it is costing Nigerians their lives. If you look at places the Borno, how long has that been going on for? We should learn to ask for help. I will tell the new people to consider coming to those places to help,” she said.