BRITAIN’s House of Commons has set aside November 23 as the day when members of Parliament will debate the Lekki Toll Gate massacre in Nigeria having received in excess of 200,000 signatures demanding that the matter be debated.
Under UK parliamentary rules, once a petition receives in excess of 100,000 signatures, the House of Commons is compelled to debate the matter. After the Nigerian Army opened fire on innocent and unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, the diaspora community in the UK swung into action, launching a petition.
Given the strength of feeling, the petition calling on the UK government to debate the matter attracted 219,978 signatures and was submitted to Parliament. In Saturday October 24, thousands of Nigerians marched to Number 10 Downing Street to submit the petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Titled Implement Sanctions Against the Nigerian Government and Officials, the petition called on the British government to introduce visa bans against any Nigerian officials found culpable of the massacre. It listed seven demands including that those responsible for this crime be charged before an internationally recognised court and that the Nigerian government compensate the families of the victims for their losses.
Other demands in the petition include that the UK demands undertakings from the Nigerian government that from henceforth it will never use brute force to respond to legitimate and peaceful protests. It was also requested that the UK assets of any Nigerian political or security official found guilty of this cold blooded murder be confiscated and returned to the Nigerian people.
Protesters also demanded that the British government offer to help train the Nigerian Police Force in a bid to bring their working practices up to international standards. They also requested that the British government back an independent and international investigation into what happened in Lagos on October 20 and the findings be made public.
Acknowledging receipt of the petition, a British government spokesman said: “We were concerned by violence during recent protests and await the outcome of Nigerian investigations into reports of police brutality. We do not publicly speculate on future sanctions designations.”
Once the debate has happened, the House of Commons will email a video and transcript of the discussion to all those who signed the online petition. Apart from submitting a petition to Downing Street, Nigerian diasporans in the UK have held several demonstrations outside the high commission, Parliament and Buckingham Palace to express their disgust at the killings.