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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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Zainab Alli Flags Off Campaign Against Gender Based Violence In Otukpo

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As the global campaign against Gender Based Violence (GBV) intensifies, Mrs. Zainab Alli, wife of the Executive Chairman of Otukpo Local Government, Rt. Hon. George Alli, on Friday 4th December 2020, flagged off the campaign in Otukpo.

This was according to a press statement signed by Desmond Oogwu , Special Adviser Media and Gender Affairs.

Mrs Zainab Alli, thanked the First Lady of Benue State, Mrs. Eunice Ortom Ph.D, for throwing her weight behind the campaign agaisnt gender based violence.

Also speaking to women and mothers, drawn mostly from the 13 wards of Otukpo Local Government Council at the Otukpo LG secretariat,   Mrs. Alli further said, “the fight against Gender Based Violence has become more necessary due to the increasing rate of violence against women and the girl child being urging mothers to speak up”.

She said, “As mothers and women, all of you seated here have either been victims of one violent crimes against women at one time or another or you know some someone who was a victim. I urge you all to speak up and liberate someone from hell on earth. Even house helps who are sometimes male or femaile, suffers abuses in different homes too”.

She said the media is replete with stories of gender based violence at home or in the streets and that the greatest weapon of the perpetrators is the silence of mothers. The Chairman’s wife also took the advocacy to St. Monica Girls Secondary where she told the students not to let anyone touch their sensitive body part, adding that should anybody touch them unnecessarily they should raise a cry.

Also, a girls child advocate and human Rights Activist, Mrs. Julie Ooja Okoh, narrated and gave vivid accounts of confrontations with rapists and child molesters as she decried the long and difficult process it takes in order to secure justice for victims against offenders.
“This battle must be fought and we will continue to fight until we win. Even if I die in the process, I don’t care. Another person will continue from where I stopped. Mothers, you have to speak up. Violence against women should never be tolerated as part of culture; it is not. Our mothers and the judiciary are our headache”, she lamented.

Also, another advocate, Mrs. Ene Lech, encouraged women and girls to develop themselves and should always report anybody, including their fathers to the appropriate authorities whenever someone behaves inappropriately around them.

The first Lady of Benue State, Dr Mrs. Eunice Ortom, ably represented by Mr. Tine Agenor, Coordinator, ESLF, in his address remarked that it not only women who suffers domestic violence. He said even men and boys suffer different forms of abuses too. He said people should make the comfort a place of comfort for both the male and the female child.

The Counselor Representing Ewulo ward at the Otukpo Legislative Assembly, also advised the students to take their studies seriously and and should never loose sight of their intended future. The Principal of St. Monica Secondary School, Rev. Sister. Grcae Adikwu thanked the guest for the visit to the school and pray God to grant the team safe trip back to their various destination.

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Nigeria Army Records Success Neutralize Bandits Also Recover Arms

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The Nigeria Army on Friday said scores of bandits were neutralized between 12 to 29 of November, 2020 following activities of Troops of Operation Sahel Sanity in the Northwest Zone.

This was contained in a press statement issued by the acting director, defence media operations, Brig-Gen. Benard Onyeuko.

 11 ILLEGAL MINERS ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT KADAURI AREA ON 22 NOVEMBER 2020
11 ILLEGAL MINERS ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT KADAURI AREA ON 22 NOVEMBER 2020

According to him, on 15 November 2020, gallant troops while conducting routine night patrol came in contact with armed bandits at Yar Tasha Village in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State. On sighting the troops advance, the criminals immediately started firing sporadically but the troops displayed tactical superiority, closed in and overpowered the bandits with overwhelming firepower.

In the process 3 of the bandits were neutralized, 3 AK-47 rifles with 3 magazines loaded with live rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition were recovered by the troops. Some of the bandits however, managed to escape by the skin of their teeth with varying degrees of injuries.

CATTLE RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION ON CATTLE RUSTLERS HIDEOUT AT DANKORI VILLAGE ON 24 NOVEMBER 2020
CATTLE RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION ON CATTLE RUSTLERS HIDEOUT AT DANKORI VILLAGE ON 24 NOVEMBER 2020

Similarly, on 16 November 2020, the gallant troops while acting on credible intelligence about kidnappers activities at Garin Arawa in Tangaza LGA of Sokoto State, swiftly moved to the area and made contact with the criminals. During the encounter, the gallant troops neutralized one of the kidnappers as others escaped in disarray into the bushes owing to troops superior fighting prowess. In the aftermath of the encounter, troops recovered one AK-47 Rifle mounted with a magazine and one motorcycle.

Also in another development, on 21 November 2020, troops conducted a robust clearance Operation and assaulted bandits enclaves at Mararaban Kawaye and Gobirawa villages in Safana LGA of Katsina State respectively.

The gallant troops encountered initial resistance at Gobirawa but successfully over-powered the bandits. In the aftermath of the encounter, 6 bandits were neutralized while 4 AK-47 Rifles, 3 Dane guns and 2 motorcycles were captured. Troops continue to crackdown on the nefarious activities of the bandits and other criminal elements in the general area.

Furthermore, on 21 November 2020, troops acting on timely information smashed a bandit’s syndicate hideout at Galadi village in Shinkafi LGA of Zamfara State. During the operation, 2 bandits were neutralized. A meticulous cordon and search by the troops led to the recovery of 2 AK-47 Rifles in the hideout.

 SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ABDULMUMINI MAIDOKA, LAWAL ABDULLAHI AND SANUSI ABDULLAHI ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT MAJAFA VILLAGE ON 12 NOVEMBER 2020
SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ABDULMUMINI MAIDOKA, LAWAL ABDULLAHI AND SANUSI ABDULLAHI ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT MAJAFA VILLAGE ON 12 NOVEMBER 2020

In the same vain, on 22 November 2020, troops conducting farm patrol along Gidan Ruwa axis of Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State, came into contact with some marauding bandits. On sighting the advancing troops, the suspects fired sporadically in an attempt to escape. Nevertheless the resilient troops pursued them with heavy volume of fire leading to the neutralization of one of the escaping bandits and recovering of one AK-47 Rifle loaded with 29 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition in the process.

Accordingly, in other operations conducted, on 12 November 2020, troops deployed at Forward Operation Base Faskari during a routine patrol arrested 2 suspected bandits’ collaborators named Lawal Madawaki and Hassan Ali at Gobirawa village in Faskari LGA of Katsina State. Furthermore on 13 November 2020, troops acting on credible Information arrested 3 suspected bandits’ collaborators named Abdulmumini Maidoka, Lawal Abdullahi and Sanusi Abdullahi at Majafa village in Kankara LGA of Katsina State. Suspects were apprehended in connection with alleged involvement in banditry activities in the general area.

Additionally, troops during a raid operation at an identified bandits associates’ hideout at Maikano village in Jibia LGA of Katsina State arrested 2 suspects named Lawal Danladi and Rane Bello.

 2 AK-47 RIFLES MOUNTED WITH MAGAZINES RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION  AT GALADI VILLAGEN ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
2 AK-47 RIFLES MOUNTED WITH MAGAZINES RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION AT GALADI VILLAGEN ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

Equally, on same day, troops acting on a tip off arrested a suspected bandits collaborator named Bello Ardo at Yargoje in Kankara LGA of Katsina State. Suspect was arrested following credible Information about his unwholesome activities with suspected bandits in the area.

 ARMED BANDIT NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
ARMED BANDIT NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

In another development, on 22 November 2020, troops raided an illegal mining site at Kadauri area in Maru LGA of Zamfara State and arrested 11 suspected illegal miners. Furthermore, on 24 November 2020, following credible information, troops busted a cattle rustlers camp at Dankori village in Mani LGA of Katsina State leading to the arrest of 3 suspected cattle rustlers while 300 cows were also recovered at the scene.

Similarly, on 28 November 2020, troops while on routine border patrol intercepted and apprehended 4 suspected armed robbers dressed in military camouflage inside a Honda vehicle at Macrine village in Yelwa LGA of Kebbi State. All arrested suspects have been handed over to appropriate authorities for prosecution.

 ONE OF THE BANDITS NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
ONE OF THE BANDITS NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

He said in summary, in all the operations conducted between the period 12 – 29 November 2020, 12 armed bandits were neutralized, 11 AK-47 Rifles and 3 Dane guns were captured. Furthermore, 8 suspected bandits collaborators and 11 illegal miners were arrested. Equally 4 suspected armed robbers and 3 cattle rustlers were nabbed by troops while 300 cows were recovered during the operations.

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Insurgency: Buratai Harps On Collective Action, Citizen’s Participation

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, says a collective effort from citizens is required to put an end to the insurgency in the North-East.

According to the Army chief, it would take the combined actions of both civilians and the military to win the war against terrorism.

Buratai said this on his verified Facebook page on Tuesday.

He wrote, “There is general misunderstanding of what insurgency and terrorism entail. There is likelihood of terrorism persisting in Nigeria for another 20 years. It only depends on the level of escalation and the appropriate responses by all stakeholders both civil and military authorities.

“Also by both local and international actors. Citizens’ responsibility is equally important and imperative. All must cooperate to contain the lingering insecurity. Let there be collective action and responsibility.”

Similarly, former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof Usman Yusuf insisted that the security situation in the country calls for collective efforts from all Nigerians.

Speaking with Arise News on Wednesday, Yusuf said, “The government and all Nigerians must agree that things are not working and the government must involve the people . The way security is done in this country is that things come from Abuja without involving people. We are in big trouble, the insecurity in this country has increased in recent times with killing of people, raping our women, cattle being rustled, and villages burnt. Its high time the federal government puts this nation on war footing and mobilise every body”.

Yusuf also suggested that communities and the military should train the youths to fight against killings, kidnapping and banditry.

“No nation can call itself secure if it does not have control of it’s airspace, waterways and highways and forests,” he said.

“We cannot be secure and will only be deluding ourselves if we think things will change and if we should continue like this. Everybody must sit up and know that security is not for the government and military alone but ours. I have friends in the United States of America who are from Somalia who call me and say they are worried about Nigeria because this is the way Somalia started and look at where we are today.

“ When we speak, it’s not that we are against the government, we brought them in, and they must do what we ask. If government doesn’t protect us, then it’s of no good to us. I call on every Nigerian to speak up”.

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