The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 116 concerned Nigerians have filed a suit, asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to direct and compel President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the arrest of soldiers and police officers indicted by the Lagos #EndSARS panel report for the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
Joined as the respondent is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
In the suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021, filed at the weekend by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, the group also prayed the court to compel the President to bring to justice, anyone found guilty of shooting peaceful protesters and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, including adequate compensation.
In the lawsuit, SERAP argued, “it is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for Nigerians’ rights, the rule of law, and public confidence in government institutions, as well as reduce the growing culture of impunity of perpetrators.”
It added: “The safety of protesters in Nigeria remains as precarious as ever, and impunity for crimes against them is growing. Impunity emboldens perpetrators. A failure to bring to justice those indicted for the shooting of peaceful protesters is, in itself, a violation of the rights to life and human dignity.”
According to the organisation, the flagrant lack of accountability for past violations of the rights of protesters has given rise to a growing sense of powerlessness, and resentment, not only among victims and their families but also among the public.
The rights body further sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel Buhari to ensure that those still being detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights are immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against them dropped.
The group also wants an order of mandamus to direct and compel the President to ensure full and effective respect for the human rights of everyone across the country, including the rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
“The Buhari administration has the constitutional responsibility to allow victims of human rights violations to find out the truth in regard to acts committed, to know who the perpetrators of such acts are, and to obtain justice and adequate compensation.
“The right to life is an inherent, core, and non-derogable human right, regardless of the circumstances, and even in times of armed conflict or states of emergency,” it stated.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.