Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said that the identities of Nigerians who were killed and brutally injured during the recent EndSARS protests in Abuja, Lagos, Oyo, Edo and other parts of the country would soon be revealed.
Falana noted that it should interest public officers who were “dancing on the graves of the slain protesters” that the bereaved families were still quietly shedding tears over their irreparable losses.
The human rights lawyer stated these during a convocation lecture he delivered at the Ekiti State University on Wednesday.
The 20th convocation lecture was titled “Restructuring and the Liberation of Nigeria.”
Falana said, “Not only were unarmed protesters not protected during the recent #EndSARS protests, hired thugs violently attacked them. Since the hired thugs were not arrested, hoodlums hijacked the protests and unleashed mayhem on the society.
“In the process, properties worth billions were destroyed. The army and the police killed over a hundred protesters. The members of the political class who use the area boys as thugs during elections should be held liable for allowing them to metamorphose into hoodlums during protests.
“Let the members of the political class who recruit and arm thugs for elections only to dump them without demobilising them stop blaming the youths for organising peaceful protests.
“Permit me to assure the Nigerian people that the identities of those who were seriously injured and brutally killed in Abuja, Ogbomoso, Benin, Port Harcourt, Lekki and other parts of Lagos will soon be revealed.
“It may interest the public officers who are dancing on the graves of the slain protesters that the bereaved families are quietly shedding tears over their irreparable losses. I am compelled to call on the Nigerian people not to allow the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to infringe on their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly.”
Falana added that in the eyes of the law, President Muhammadu Buhari should “prohibit armed soldiers from usurping the powers of the police by getting involved in the maintenance of internal security in any manner, whatsoever and however.”
“However, to prevent hoodlums from hijacking peaceful protests, rallies and marches we call on the President to direct the Inspector-General of Police and Commissioners of Police in all the states of the Federation to comply with section 94 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended,” he said.
The human rights lawyer noted that restructuring alone would not automatically answer the “menacing question of rising youth joblessness and hopelessness plaguing the Nigerian society.”
“So we should stop mystifying the debate by calling for a “true federalism” instead of asking for a workable federation of Nigeria. Making a federation to work, building a nation or promoting national integration is never a finished business.
“That’s why it’s a gross misnomer when some people pronounce arrogantly that “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. That’s wrong. Federations are, of course, subject to negotiations when the need arises in any generation.
“What is to be done is to accept the reality of negotiation and compromise to give everyone a sense of belonging. This will invariably spur a sense of commitment to the union. Come to think of it; there will be negotiations and engagements from generation to generation as issues arise,” he added.