Since 8 October, Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes. They have been met with excessive use of force by the army and police forces. On 20 October, at least 12 peaceful protesters were reportedly shot dead when the army opened fire on thousands of protesters calling for an end to police brutality as part of the #EndSARS movement. The authorities must immediately end the killing and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters across the country.
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President Muhammadu Buhari
President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces
Office of the President of the Federal Republic
Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, Nigeria
Dear President Buhari,
I am writing to express grave concern over reported killings of #EndSARS peaceful protesters in several parts of Nigeria. Between 6:45pm and 9:00pm of 20 October, the Nigerian army and police reportedly killed at least 12 peaceful protesters and left several injured in Lekki and Alasusa – two locations in Lagos – when they opened fire on thousands of people who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality as part of the #EndSARS movement. Since 8 October, protesters have been occupying the streets of major towns and cities across 21 states of the country, demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes. The protests, which began as a response to a viral video of SARS operatives shooting a young man on 3 October, has transformed into nationwide protests for police reform. The protesters have consistently been met with excessive use of force: including the firing of live ammunition, water cannons, the throwing of tear gas into crowds, beatings and arrests, all of which have led to death and injuries. This excessive force on peaceful protesters is contrary to both the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and international standards that protect the rights to life, dignity, and peaceful assembly.
I call on you to publicly order an end to the killing and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters across the country by security agents and the military; ensure a prompt, thorough, impartial, effective and transparent investigation into all cases of human rights violations by the police, including the unlawful killings of the #EndSARS protesters; ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families; and publicly commit to implement the demands of the protesters including an end to police brutality, accountability for extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and extortion by SARS officers and policing reforms in general.