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#LekkiMassacre: Pro-Buratai group gives Amnesty seven-day notice to leave Nigeria

Princess Ajibola of the Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights advances Nigerian Army’s narrative of no civilian casualties.

• November 4, 2020
Former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai
Former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai

Amnesty International has operated in Nigeria since June 1967, fighting alongside Nigerians during decades of brutal military regimes. 

The country’s human rights record has improved only little over the last two decades of civil rule, which keeps Amnesty International as a crucial bulwark amongst local and international groups fighting endemic rights violation and injustice in the country. 

On October 20, the Nigerian Army intervened in a protest against police brutality in Lagos, leaving at least nine killed and dozens wounded. Calls to ensure accountability have loomed ever since, and Amnesty International, through its Nigerian operation, has been a key voice for resilient international exertion towards accountability.

On Wednesday afternoon, a group sought to neutralise demand for accountability on behalf of the Nigerian Army. Led by Princess Ajibola, the Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights, has now given Amnesty International a seven-day notice to leave Nigeria.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International

Ms. Ajibola at a press briefing in Abuja threatened grave consequences against Amnesty Nigeria and its staff members.

“For Nigeria to rebuild, Amnesty must be out of the way and out of the way for good,” Ms. Ajibola said, adding that Amnesty’s “failure to leave Nigeria will attract civil disobedience at its offices based in Abuja and in Lagos on a scale that would make the campaign of looting and arson it facilitated appear like child’s play.” 

Ms. Ajibola also accused Amnesty of providing unconfirmed death toll to rally international support for condemnation of the massacre.  

“The protesters might have made a misleading claim of a massacre at Lekki Toll-Gate and the lie that 78 people were killed, but it took Amnesty International’s amplification of that lie for the international community and super-national organisations to wrongly accuse and condemn Nigeria and its government,” she said.

She further threatened that: “Amnesty International’s offices and those of all its affiliated organisations and known supporters in Nigeria will be set upon the same way that its agents destroyed critical assets of the country. 

Princess Ajibola
Princess Ajibola

“Its staffers will be treated that innocent policemen and our children lynched by mobs were treated. The countdown for the seven-day ultimatum begins now.” 

Ms. Ajibola did not comment on Nigerian Army’s initial false claim that soldiers were not present at the scene of the massacre, which it has since retracted. 

Ms. Ajibola also accused Amnesty Nigeria director Osai Ojigho of failing to state evidence of massacre in Lagos, but silent on a crucial timeline of the military operation that was published by Amnesty last week. She did not return calls and messages from Peoples Gazette seeking clarification on whether or not she saw the October 28 timeline.

A spokesman for Amnesty Nigeria declined comments while the group carried out its analysis of Ms. Ajibola’s threat, which came hours after the International Criminal Court confirmed its preliminary investigation into the October 20 massacre had commenced.

Since 2016, Amnesty Nigeria has faced calls to leave Nigeria from suspected agents of the Nigerian Army, especially those known to have publicly commended Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai. The group’s offices in Abuja have been picketed repeatedly by Ms. Ajibola’s CALSER and other similar agitators, but Amnesty maintained it enjoys the support of most Nigerians to improve the country’s human rights status.

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