Buhari May Face Trial At International Criminal Court As Petition Against Him Grows

President Muhammadu Buhari may face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his possible alleged role in the shooting of unarmed protesters at Lekki tollgate during the EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020 as petition against him keep growing. This is as online petition demanding his trial by ICC grows.

The online petition was launched on the web-based petition aggregator, change.org. The petition was addressed to the International Criminal Court to arraign President Muhammadu Buhari for crimes against humanity. On Monday, the Lagos State judicial panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)-related abuses submitted its report to the state government.

The findings of the panel, set up to investigate the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos during the demonstrations against police brutality in October 2020, had confirmed in its report that at least nine persons died.

The report released by the panel on Monday also confirmed the excesses of the Nigerian police and military personnel as well as the ugly incident at the tollgate. The panel had also described the killing as a massacre.

The petition, which has garnered over 7, 013 signatories as of the time of filing this report, is titled; “Petition To The ICC To Arraign Muhammadu Buhari for Crimes Against Humanity”. The petition was initiated by Reno Omokri, a former Special Assistant to Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan.

It reads; “On October 20, 2020, the Buhari administration murdered multiple innocent, unarmed, peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in a massacre that has since been dubbed #LekkiMassacre.

“These youths were protesting to put an end to the rampant police brutality that had become the hallmark of the Buhari regime, which treats so-called repentant Boko Haram almost like royalty, while coming hard on young Nigerians, sometimes for the flimsiest reason, such as wearing dreadlocks and having tatoo.

“Following the murders of these protesters, the Buhari administration denied that the incident ever occurred. They threatened those, like myself, who insisted, with proof, that this massacre happened. The government even threatened to jail people who called for those behind the murders to be brought to book.

“However, on Monday, November 15, 2021, the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry into EndSARS massacre released its report to the state government in which it established judicially that not only did the massacre occur, but that the government of Muhammadu Buhari and its agents the Nigerian Army and police perpetrated the murders.

“This petition is therefore directed at the International Criminal Court to set machinery in motion for the trial of Muhammadu Buhari for crimes against humanity in the same way that former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, was tried and convicted.

“On this day, November 17, 2021, when my beloved twin sons are celebrating their 14th birthday, they have permitted me to use their special day to call for justice for the many sons and daughters who will never have another birthday because Buhari killed them in their prime. #BuhariForPrison2023,” the petition concluded.

However, CNN lawyer has tackle Buhari’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed and demands apology for tagging its #EndSARS report as fake. Olumide Babalola, the Nigerian counsel to the Cable News Network (CNN), has demanded that Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, tender an apology to his client for tagging it a fake news outfit after an investigative report carried out by the American media house on the killing of protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.

In November 2020, Lai Mohammed said a report by CNN on the Lekki shooting did not just fall short of journalistic standards but reinforces the disinformation that is going around on the issue. The minister, in the letter written to CNN, said; “the international platform left out a video which could have shown that “armed hoodlums invaded the Lekki Toll Gate that night, and could have hit any of the protesters as they shot sporadically”.

“This is a ploy by the CNN reporter/presenter to manipulate viewers of its ‘investigative’ report and force them to draw the reporter’s desired conclusion,” the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed wrote during his feedback to CNN in November 2020.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CNN counsel said the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters report had vindicated the organization’s investigative report, titled, ‘How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement’.

“Alhaji Lai Mohammed should eschew his pride and apologize to the CNN if he has any integrity left,” Mr Olumide Babalola, the Nigerian counsel to the Cable News Network (CNN) stated.

He added; “He has consistently claimed that the CNN’s report of the massacre was false, but the panel has vindicated the CNN’s position on the gruesome and wanton killings at the Lekki Tollgate. Without necessarily saying more on this, since the same minister had earlier called on the CNN to apologize for fake news, which has now been quasi-judicially proved to be true, one would think the honorable thing for Alhaji Lai Mohammed to do, as an elder statesman and learned gentleman, is to apologize to the CNN especially.

“However, as we continue to wait on the minister and the Federal Government’s next move, I sympathize with families of all the victims of the Lekki massacre, while we pray for the souls of the departed and hope the government implements the report in full.”

“In the light of the report by the judicial panel, Lai Mohammed ought to eat the humble pie and apologize to the CNN,” Mr Olumide Babalola, the Nigerian counsel to the Cable News Network (CNN) stated.

However, HURIWA has demanded the sacking and arrest of Lai Mohammed over comments on #EndSARS massacre. The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria also known as  HURIWA has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sack and arrest Lai Mohammed for contradicting the report of Lagos State judicial panel of investigations on the massacre in Lekki Toll-Gate.

HURIWA, in a statement in Abuja signed by its National Co-ordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, noted that the demand followed the report and verdict of the panel, which said there was indeed a massacre, which led to the death of score of protesters.

HURIWA said that the report had indicted the Nigerian Army and the police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in 2020. Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed had during a press conference in Abuja stridently claimed that there was no evidence to show that any protester was killed at the Lekki Toll-Gate on October 20, 2020.

The group therefore, implored the President to order the arrest and prosecution of Lai Mohammed for committing a grave and heartless offence that is equivalent to the denial of the Holocaust of the six million Jews by Adolf Hitler, which is punishable by nearly half a century of incarceration.

The rights group, which commended the brave members and chairperson of the panel of inquiry on the #EndSARS report, urged the President not to sweep the lawlessness of the security agencies under the carpets.

Austine Ikeru
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