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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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Nigeria Immigration Service Places Embargo on Capturing, Issuance of Passports

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The Nigeria Immigration Service has placed an embargo on capturing and issuance of passports to applicants from today May 18th till the end of May 2021.

The Comptroller General of Immigration, Muhammed Babandede made the announcement on Tuesday during a press briefing in Abuja.

He said the decision is to enable the service to clear its backlog, noting that it will no longer collect fresh applications until the backlogs are cleared.

This means that all passports in control offices are closed for applicants from today till May 31st and payments for passports will be online when the portal is opened which will be June.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola had earlier given a six weeks timeline for passport collection.

He said this will be six weeks which is meant to allow for enough time to investigate, verify and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

“What we are driving at is the peace of mind that comes from the assurance of certainty. If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date”.

He noted that applicants will have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue. The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application will be communicated to them.

“The technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will be deployed.

“We are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them.

“With these changes, it is my firm belief that we will arrive at a new dawn in passport application processing”, the minister added.

Below is the breakdown of the current backlog

Local: 71, 644

Enhanced: 46,814

Foreign : 17,906

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NLC President Dares El-Rufai, Leads Protesters to Kaduna Govt House

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The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, is currently leading union members to the Kaduna State Government House.

This is after Governor Nasir El-Rufai declared the labour leader and others wanted for “economic sabotage” and attack on public infrastructure.

Large crowd, led by Wabba, is marching through Waff road in Kaduna and heading towards the government house.

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Gov Obiano Imposes Curfew on 2 Warring Anambra Communities

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Gov. Willie Obiano has imposed a 7am to 6am curfew on Omor and Anaku communities in Ayamelum Local Government Area of the state.

This is contained in a statement issued by Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to the State Government.

The state government said the curfew is untill further notice.

”The curfew begins on Monday. Residents of the two communities should obey the order as security personnel are on strict orders to enforce the curfew directives.

”The government has lifted the curfew imposed on Igbariam, Aguleri, Umueri, Nteje, Awkuzu and Umunya communities on April 26, following the return of normalcy in the areas,” the government said.

It was reported that on Sunday, a violent clash broke out between residents of Anaku and Omor Communities.

The police says three persons have been confirmed dead in a clash between Omor and Anaku communities in Anyamelum Local Government Area of the state.

DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra, told NAN in Awka on Sunday that normalcy has since been restored in the area.

Ikenga said that Mr Chris Owolabi, Commissioner of Police in the state, personally led a team of operatives to quell the crisis between the neighbouring communities.He said that the command is still gathering information on the extent of damage while assuring that efforts were on to avoid deterioration of the situation and ensure lasting peace.

“Normalcy has been restored in the area and our men are still on ground to ensure safety of life and property. So far, we have recovered three bodies which have been deposited at the morgue.

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