NIGERIAN political and military officials responsible for the Lekki Toll Gate massacre in which unarmed protesters were shot may now be prosecuted for crimes against humanity after the International Criminal Court (ICC) commenced and inquiry into the matter.
On October 20, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed protesters demanding police reform at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State, killing several of them. This cold-blooded murder sparked a national outrage across the country, forcing people to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
However, since the incident, the Nigerian Army has been desperately trying to absolve itself of the shooting, claiming its soldiers did not kill anyone. Debunking this, Amnesty International said its crisis response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirmed that security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.
Several petitions have been sent to human rights bodies worldwide, with the ICC being put under pressure to act on the matter. This morning, the ICC confirmed that it is conducting a preliminary examination into the whole #EndSARS protests and the allegations of human rights abuses associated with them.
Apparently, the office of the ICC prosecutor has received information on the alleged crimes and has initiated a probe to assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met. It is believed that the probe will examine a range of government human rights breaches during the protests.
Tears gas, water cannons and live bullets were used by the police against the protesters in some cases. While this was happening, thugs in Lagos and Abuja attacked #EndSARS gatherings at different locations with clubs, knives and machetes.
Many demonstrators were injured, while cars and phones damaged. However, October 20 marked the turning point of the agitation when Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed citizens at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
This incident has become a dent on Nigeria’s image and international organisations have demanded prosecution of those involved. As a result of the killings, rampaging youths occupied the streets of Lagos State in defiance of the curfew imposed by the government.
Promising to review the matter thoroughly, the ICC assured that findings of the preliminary examination on crimes perpetrated during the #EndSARS protests would be made public. Meanwhile, a Nigerian divisional police head, has advised his men to protect themselves ahead of the yuletide and the new year, citing fear of more attacks on them.
Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s inspector-general of police, said 22 policemen were killed and 205 stations/formations were destroyed during the nationwide riots. In response, the government has initiated a massive crackdown, leading to widespread arrest.