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Bashir Tofa Warns FG: Arrest Of Man Who Led Katsina Protest May Trigger Crisis

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Bashir Tofa, opponent of MKO Abiola in the June 12 presidential election, has described the arrest and detention of Nastura Sharif as undemocratic.

Sharif, chairman of the board of trustees (BoT) of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), was arrested by the police over the protest by his group.

The group had hit the streets of Katsina on Tuesday, over the rising insecurity in the north.

In a statement, Tofa said Sharif’s arrest is a “bad example of intolerance in a democracy”, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the activist.

He said failure to release him could lead to an avoidable crisis.

“The arrest and detention of Alhaji Nasturah Ashir Sheriff, the leader of the Coalition of Northern Youth, is utterly wrong, undemocratic and a very bad example of intolerance. It is unwise and unjust,” Tofa said.

“Not even during sensible and caring military rules, would citizens demonstrate peacefully about a matter that worries the entire country, and anyone be arrested. Is this a notice that nobody is allowed to say anything or to express a view, even peacefully? Is this the Democracy Nigeria is showing to the world? We hope not.

“I appeal to the President to immediately order the release of this young man with an apology, before a single match ignites the forest and conflagrate the entire North and eventually the country. So many people are angry about so many things. If this collective anger is tickled and pushed by a few who may have started some illegal action somewhere, it will easily spread.

“The 2011 violence, destruction and death that occurred when it was rumoured that Gen. Muhammad Buhari was denied his victory will be a child’s play this time around. Nigerians are very angry! Insecurity everywhere, poverty, joblessness and now Covid-19, disease, despair and desperation have eaten deep into people’s patience and good sense.

“President Buhari should be very careful. He should begin to know and appreciate his true and sincere friends, and get rid of his enemies, who do tremendous harm to his image and his own future well being and safety. He must remember that in three years, someone else will be President.”

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Terrorism: COAS Tours Command Engineering Depot Kaduna*

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was at Command Engineering Depot, kaduna on Friday the 30th of October 2020 on a working tour, where he inspected 5 pieces of additional newly manufactured Nigerian Army (NA) constructed Mines Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) and to assess the ongoing production of new ones. He was conducted round the Depot by the Commander, Major General Sunday Araoye and Director General Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, Major General Victor Ezugwu, where he also inspected the repairs of damaged/malfunctioned and backloaded Armoured Personnel Carriers, troops carrying vehicles and other combat vehicles. Both the new and the repaired MRAPs, Armoured Personnel Careers, as well as the repaired troops’ carrying vehicles were test driven and have proven to be in good working condition.

While briefing the Chief of Army Staff at the Depot’s Smart Factory, the Commandant said that a state of the art 3D printing machine for vehicles’ parts and medical implants has been installed. “We have also manufactured a surveillance vehicle with drone attached to it to enhance NA’s operations”, he said.

After the tour of the facility, members of the press were briefed by the Acting Director of the Nigerian Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa who said that the construction and repairs of the MRAPs, troops’ carrying vehicles and other combat equipment as well as the manufacturing of 12.6mm anti aircraft guns and repairs of backloaded ones by the Depot has proven to be impactful and combat multipliers for the ongoing war against insurgency and anti banditry operations in the north east and north western parts of Nigeria.

Sagir said “The initiative and efforts of the NA in this regard, has proven to be a force multiplier and very effective in the various theatres of Operations in the fight against terrorism in the north east and anti banditry operations in the north west”. “The effort of the NA in this regard has so far saved Nigeria billions of Naira that could have been used for the procurement of these military hardware and equipment” he further said.

The Army Chief has expressed satisfaction with the level of progress made so far. He enjoined officers, soldiers and civilian staff of the Depot to upscale the level of achievements recorded, Sagir added.

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*Lekki Shooting: Nigerian Army acted within rules of engagement, professionalism required – Coalition*

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The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) says the Nigerian Army didn’t breach its rules of engagement at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos or anywhere in the country during the EndSARS protests. 

According to the coalition, the troops acted in its usual professional manner and have been agents of stabilization, instrumental to restoration of peace. 

The Coalition for Truth and Justice made this revelation in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Timothy Charles, on Wednesday, in Abuja. 

As a followup to the army’s statement on Tuesday, the CTJ said it carried out a preliminary investigation to ascertain the actual state of things. 

It said from the footages reviewed, the troops were captured firing blank rounds to the air that couldn’t have killed anyone. 

The coalition admitted that the sole confirmed fatality from the Lekki Toll gate incident was as a result of blunt force trauma and not gunshot. 

With these and other “overwhelming proof”, the CTJ concluded that there was no massacre as being portrayed by “anarchists”. 

It, however, urged relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate key people among the protesters, adding that it is possible that they may have opened fire on their own members. 

Read full statement below:

The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ), after a careful review of available information, has reached the conclusion that the Nigerian Army did not breach its rules of engagement during the incidence at Lekki Toll Plaza and indeed any other part of Lagos state and the entire country in the course of the #EndSARS protests.

Contrary to the ongoing vilification campaign by pro-looters individuals and organizations, emerging facts rather suggest that the Nigerian Army has been an agent of stabilization that was instrumental to restoration of peace in many of the cities across the country with the curtailing of the violence that had threatened to spiral out of control. 

CTJ, in response to the statement issued by the Nigerian Army Tuesday night,  has carried out its preliminary investigations and far from what everyone had said, we studied the situation and came up with a clear understanding that the Nigerian Army did not breach its Rules of Engagement in all the instances claimed by propagandists. 

While soldiers were being accused of shooting into the crowd of protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza, it is interesting to note that every single video clip shared by the #EndSARS protesters depicted the soldiers as firing into the air. The loud sound of the gunshots in the videos indicated that what the soldiers were firing were blank rounds while the silver shell casings retrieved from the scene by the protesters further confirmed that the rounds were blank and couldn’t have killed anyone. 

We also noted that the bullets that the protesters allegedly claimed were extracted from the supposed remains of their killed colleagues did not show any deformation or denting as would be expected of projectiles that had made impact at high velocity. It is not likely that a bullet will hit someone and still retain its shape.

Furthermore, shooting 15 people dead as claimed by the #EndSARS protesters would have flooded the scene with anything upwards of 75 liters of human blood, which would have been visible for all to see on the morning of the following day. There was no such and there were no remains, except for the tenuous lie that the corpses were handed over to soldiers, something that turned out to be false since no mortuary has reported receiving the remains and the foreign partners of the protesters have not been able to come up with satellite images of freshly dug mass graves as they are used to alleging.  

What we were able to establish is that the one confirmed fatality from the Lekki Toll Gate incident was from blunt force trauma and not gunshot. It is therefore trite for CTJ to point out that almost every single person that the cyber wing of the protest had trended as being killed at the toll gate have returned from the dead to refute news of their demise just as pictures from movie shoots that they attempted to use to discredit the Army have been exposed.  

It is pertinent to point out that the other jurisdictions that the protesters are comparing Nigeria to would not stand by idle while arsonists and anarchists make life unbearable for other people while also destroying national assets and looting everywhere. In the United States, there have been instances when the national guard was called in to assist the civil police in curbing extreme protests. In the United Kingdom, during the 2011 London Riots, 92% of persons surveyed were opened to the Army being brought in to curtail the destruction by protesters.  

Based on the insistence of the #EndSARS protesters that there was a massacre even in the absence of evidence and in the face of overwhelming proof to the contrary, CTJ finds it pertinent to demand a thorough investigation of key people among the protesters since it is possible that they opened fire on their own members within the protest in order to malign the government by accusing the Army. This possibility is high because protesters had killed many police officers on the same day, set some ablaze and committed other atrocities while the military continued to exercise restraints. 

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*Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management*

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A special report by the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management on the immediate cause of the escalation of violence across the country in the aftermath of the Lekki Tollgate incident in Lagos State

Introduction: 

There has recently been an astronomical level of violence across the country, especially in Lagos state; from looting and destruction of public and private properties to social amenities and business concerns. 

This indeed necessitated the imposition of a 24-hour curfew by the Lagos state government in a bid to bring the conflict in the state to a halt. Consequently, the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management commissioned a special rapporteur to investigate the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos and other parts of the country.

The report looked extensively on the various conspiracy theories at play and indeed separated the facts from the falsehoods, as well as those individuals and groups whose actions and inactions were responsible for the escalation of violence.   

The issues:

The peaceful protest by the youths demanding for the reform of the Nigerian Police Force was ostensibly hijacked by some thugs and hoodlums that went on rampage looting, maiming and killing innocent persons going about their normal businesses.

The crisis was further escalated by the activities of fake news merchants that utilized the social media space in propagating fibs that eventually heated the polity to boiling point. 

It was also observed that the protest was hijacked from the moment the protesters refused to leave the streets even after the government had agreed to their five demands and initiated moves for dialogue, which was turned down and instead police formations and units became subject of attack, leading to deaths and injuries. 

It was also observed that some individuals and organizations were discreetly propelling the youths to remain on the streets in defiance of the peace overtures made by the government at the federal and state levels. 

Indeed groups such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana (SAN) prominently heated the polity in several ways that include but not limited to; mobilizing social media influencers to project the government as insensitive to the demands of the youths; mobilizing logistics for street protest; mobilizing celebrities through his musician son, Folarin Falana (Falz) to discredit the efforts of government towards reforming the Nigerian Police Force as well as a host of other despicable acts that includes inciting press statements and communique.

The Facts: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management after a detailed investigation and analysis of the chain of events that eventually led to the breakdown of law and order in Lagos and other parts of the country identified that proponents of fake news indeed had a field day in ensuring that the protests gathered momentum. 

The government of Nigeria as a matter of urgency and in response to the demands made by the youths directed the Inspector General of Police to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and begin the process of evaluating the mental and psychological state of operatives of the disbanded outfit, and consequently the training and retraining of these operatives before redeployment to other police units and formations. 

The various state governments also instituted a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations by the Nigerian Police and the recommendation of appropriate sanctions to erring officers. 

The various law enforcement agents deployed to maintain law and order utilized minimal force and only in extreme cases of excessive looting of public and private concerns and arson that force was exerted to restore law and order. 

The Nigerian Army indeed rose to the occasion as the personnel deployed to various hotspots was able to restore law and order without the use of force as multiple pieces of evidence indicates that troops utilized persuasion skills rather than force as erroneously reported in the social media space and other traditional media news mediums.

The Lies: 

It remains incomprehensible how a segment of the population would elect to spread outright falsehood in the country to encourage crime and criminality at the detriment of peace and unity.

The Lekki TollGate incident was one of the means that was latched on to escalate violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country. The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management in its analysis of events indeed identified the ignoble role played by organizations such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana. 

The organization indeed issued statements that were provoking and inciting, wherein it alleged that the government was not responding to the demands of the youths and that it was business as usual in the operations of the disbanded SARS unit. 

The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond did instigate the protesters through statements credited to it on the pages of newspapers and other news dissemination channels. It was also observed that the organization had formed a strategic alliance with Sahara Reporters to indiscriminately disseminate information that is inaccurate and to heat the polity and discredit the efforts of government towards the restoration of law and order in the country. 

The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 also made several attempts at painting a picture of plans by the government through the Nigerian Army to kill protesters on the street, which indirectly charged the already tensed atmosphere. 

Conclusion: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of this investigation concludes that indeed the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country were are a result of incitements by individuals and organizations. The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, as led by Femi Falana was notorious in this regard with the multiple press statements and releases that were either mischievously or intentionally placed in the media in a manner that suggests ulterior motives. 

It must also be noted that the government lost the narrative when it failed to realize that the peaceful protest was being hijacked by some forces when mobs began to target police units and formations, as well as policemen and women on duty.

Recommendations: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of the findings in this report makes the following recommendations: 

• That the government must identify those individuals and groups that incited the people into resorting to acts of violence

• That the Femi Falana led Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond should be held liable for the escalation of violence in the country and for leading an uprising against the country and plunging the nation into a crisis of unimaginable proportion.

• That Femi Falana should appear before an investigative panel of inquiry to give an account of the activities of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond 

. That the government should trace the transactions of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond in the past one month towards ascertaining the level of complicity in the funding of the street protests across the country. 

• That the security agencies must begin the process of mopping up small and light weapons in circulation in parts of the country.

Signed: 
Dr Thomas Uzah, 
Special Rapporteur.

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