Democracy Is at Stake in Nigeria and Demands Action
Last week, demonstrations in Nigeria demanding an end to police brutality took a violent turn as security forces shot into the crowd of peaceful protesters. The world watched in horror as videos on social media captured Nigerian security forces murdering people with impunity, leading to widespread calls for police accountability, including shutting down the notorious police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Despite a viral campaign to #EndSARS, the perpetrators have not been held accountable, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has yet to adequately acknowledge the role of state security forces in the violence, and the Nigerian Army seems to have borrowed directly from Trump’s playbook, calling coverage of the attacks, “Fake News!!!”
The evidence against SARS and the broader culture of corruption and police impunity in Nigeria is nothing new. Indeed, our client, journalist and human rights defender Omoyele Sowore, has been documenting the violence and unrest in Nigeria for years and has experienced these human rights abuses firsthand. In his fight to defend dissent, Sowore has been arbitrarily confined in Abuja for well over a year, receiving death threats while the government continues to unlawfully prosecute Sowore in contravention to a recent United Nations decision.
Just as we support calls for justice and accountability for police violence in the United States, we must also extend that solidarity beyond our shores. An upcoming election doesn’t preclude or exempt us from our global responsibility to stand up against such heinous human rights abuses and we urge our leaders in Washington to wake up, take action, and stand with #EndSARS protesters while we can still make a difference.
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