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We have a duty to impose sanctions on those responsible for the Lekki toll gate massacre

We have a duty to impose sanctions on those responsible for the Lekki toll gate massacre

(Alamy)

3 min read

As we mark the second anniversary of the shooting of peaceful protestors at the Lekki toll gate in Nigeria, the United Kingdom has yet to sanction a single perpetrator.

On 3 October 2020, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police (SARS) officers shot dead a young man in front of the Wetland Hotel in Ughelli, Delta state. It wasn’t the first time SARS had used violence against young Nigerians, but footage of the incident went viral. A few days later, protests calling for the disbandment of SARS and an end to police brutality began.

During one peaceful sit-in at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on 20 October 2020, witnesses say that army trucks kettled protesters and the toll gate’s lights were turned off. Soldiers began to shoot live rounds into the crowd. Amnesty International reports that at least 12 people were killed. Others are missing, presumed dead. An estimated 21 protestors were injured by gunshots. The police and soldiers shot protestors. It is reported the army refused to allow ambulances to rescue wounded protesters. This contributed to the number of casualties. Eyewitness testimony and video footage document some the horror of that night, which has come to be known as the Lekki tollgate massacre.  

For the bereaved families of those killed, justice can’t wait

In the uproar that followed the killings, a judicial panel of inquiry was set up in Nigeria. It heard evidence for a year before making a series of recommendations, which include the prosecution of implicated police officers and disciplinary action against army officers. These key steps towards accountability have still not taken place.

Today, none of those responsible for the violence have been charged or prosecuted. Some of those that the judicial panel of inquiry identified as perpetrators continue to hold senior police, army and diplomatic roles in Nigeria.  

A culture of impunity is dangerous. In Nigeria there is a lack of trust in the police, which is linked to growing vigilantism. We know that any restoration of trust in the authorities requires the rule of law to be upheld.

For the bereaved families of those killed, justice can’t wait. Like no one else, bereaved relatives want to know that the abuses which killed their loved ones won’t happen again.

The UK is in a position to apply targeted pressure on those responsible. We have a sanctions regime designed to hold human rights abusers to account. 

We know who the perpetrators are and what they did, we also know it is in our power to offer a measure of hope to those in Nigeria and our own thriving Nigerian diaspora who are tired of police brutality.

Labour believe we have a duty to impose targeted sanctions on those responsible for the killings at Lekki. Yet our government continues to sit on its hands.

 

Lyn Brown, Labour MP for West Ham.

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