The Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, ASCAB, has said it will drag the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai to the International Criminal Court, in The Hague if any of the #EndSARs protesters were killed by his soldiers.
ASCAB, led by fiery Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, said this in a statement on Sunday, warning president Muhammadu Buhari against deploying soldiers to disperse the #EndSARS protesters from the streets.
Acting Director Army Public Relations, Sagir Musa had said on Saturday that the Buhari government will unleash the military on the peaceful protesters, under the guise of Exercise Crocodile Smile VI from October 20 to December 31.
There have been peaceful protests by Nigerians across the country and abroad against police brutality, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
ASCAB warned, “Buhari should not invite soldiers to resolve a purely democratic issue that calls for dialogue and constructive engagement.”
The group made it clear that the protests are similar to those across the world as seen in Hong Kong, United States, France, South Africa, Belarus and even in Sudan.
Soldiers were not deployed to suppress the protesters in those countries, the group pointed out.
“Nigeria wants to set another ugly precedence in world history,” it said.
The statement further read, “The plan to deploy soldiers is dangerous.
“It will push Nigeria into the red light district of global reckoning.
“Sending soldiers after school children and leaders of tomorrow shows what future we anticipate for the teeming population of young men and women who have taken to the streets to protest against a system that buries their dreams and shatter their potentials and aspirations.
“Nigerian authorities said on Saturday that soldiers will be deployed this week to bring an end to the weeklong demonstration over police brutality.
“We urge President Mohammadu Buhari not to use soldiers to quell a peaceful, civil protest.
“The protesters have been lawful. The few cases of violence were associated with armed thugs disrupting the protests coupled with the shooting of protesters by security operatives.”
ASCAB reminded the Buhari Government that Operation Crocodile Smile had been declared illegal by a Nigerian Court with competent jurisdiction following legal actions filed by Falana.
It added that efforts by the Chief of Army Staff to challenge the order by approaching the Court of Appeal met a brick wall.
ASCAB recalled that the Federal High Court in July this year, granted a perpetual injunction restraining the Army from such an exercise, in Femi Falana SAN v Chief of Army Staff (FHV/L/CS/1939/19
The group said it was already monitoring and compiling lists of all extra-judicial killings associated with the protests and that Buratai or any soldier involved in any killings would be held personally responsible at the international court.
ASCAB said peaceful protests is a constitutional right and the only way citizens could register their grievances against a system that suffocates them.