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Lagos White Paper Whitewashes #ENDSARS Report

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The report of the #EndSARS panel on Police brutality was damning enough. The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry received reports of massive abuse of citizens’ rights by the Police and security forces, and described killings at the Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, as a massacre. The panel’s report which was leaked, also accused the Army and the Police of killing peaceful protesters and taking action to clean up evidence. Receiving the report of the panel on 15th November 2021, the Lagos State government promised to issue a White Paper within two weeks. Keeping to its words, it did. A White Paper was issued on the report of the panel. The State government’s White Paper appear however, to differ radically from the contents of the report. The serious, egregious violation of rights identified in the report was whitewashed by the government’s White Paper. Indeed, it appears that the government White Paper came out smelling like sweet rose. To drive the knife deeper into the wound, the Lagos State government announced invitation to #EndSARS protest leaders to come for a “Peace Walk.”

…Activists Under Threat

Just after the #EndSARS panel report was leaked, one of the protesters was attacked, while one of the panel members reported threat to his life. According to Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), he received threats to his person, which made him worry about his safety. In a public statement, Adegboruwa stated that there have been lots of threats and attacks by those suspected to be  agents of the government, against him, especially in the media. He called on citizens to hold government responsible should anything happen to him. In an earlier development, one of the prominent #EndSARS protesters who testified before the panel, Miss Kamsiyochukwu Ibeh was attacked and dealt serious machete blows by those her lawyers described as government agents.

Nigerians and lots of Nigeria’s watchers have raised serious questions about the antics and tactics of Police and security forces in their management of public protests, and treatment of government critics. In widely reported cases, the high-handedness of security forces and the police have been manifestly brutal. In the reported case of the attempted arrest of Oduduwa Republic activist, Sunday Igboho, security forces had invaded his home and shown gross disregard for human rights by the manner in which the invasion occurred. There were reports of killings and blood spilling during Igboho’s home invasion. Also, the case of the invasion of the home of the Islamic leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, where hundreds of members of his sect were killed during the invasion of his home and its razing by security forces.