A Yoruba Self-Determination Group, Yoruba Voice of Liberation, has petitioned the United Nations, European Union, African Union, American Government, British Government, Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission and all Governors of Yoruba Speaking States, including Kogi and Kwara over an alleged threat to the lives of some Yoruba leaders, including the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams.
The group also warned the Nigerian Government against arresting leading Yoruba Nationalists, especially Adams and the disputed President-General of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye.
It said: “Nigerians in the Diaspora will respond if the two leaders are touched.”
In a statement on Thursday, titled: “Four Things President Muhammadu Buhari Must Do To Avoid International Actions and Sanctions,” the President of the group, Dr. Adekunle Ademola, a United Kingdom-based Lawyer, urged the international community to call the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to order on the use of live bullets against harmless protesters, saying it was a gross abuse of human rights, which, if not stopped, could lead to revolutionary response from the people.
Ademola said: “Nigerian government must respect right of expression, end violence on peaceful protesters and provide platform for dialogue on way forward. The job of law enforcement agencies is to monitor the protest such that order is maintained. This is far from the case in treatment of protesters in Nigeria.”
“For example, in September 2019, Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, stated in her report ‘…On 29 and 30 May 2016, during a demonstration, the Nigerian military opened fire on IPOB members and bystanders in Onitsha. At least 60 persons were killed and over 70 injured, mainly shot in the back. The exact number of deaths remains unknown.’
“People of Yoruba land and entire Nigeria have the right to peacefully express their choices in the affairs of Nigeria. In every civilized community, similar to what operated during Brexit and similar situations in history of nations, groups/parties for and against particular terms of association should be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights of expression in enabling environment that enhance informed choices.
“Also, Nigerian government must desist from path of deploying military and lethal weapons on peaceful protesters. It is the job of the police to control citizen population in law enforcement, while the army is for controlling and enforcing borders. Dispatching military to meet peaceful protesters with lethal weapons is in breach of the law, national and international.
“For example, It is very alarming that trailer load of heavily armed military men was deployed, targeting an individual, in the case of Mr Sunday Adeyemo, all in an attempt by the Federal government to stop a planned peaceful protest.
“No harm should happen to Aare Gani Adams, Prof Banji Akintoye and Mr. Sunday Adeyemo. No harm should happen to citizens agitating for their rights.
“We ask that The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, returns to the barracks with his armed men and leave the job of protest management to the police. Yoruba people of the South West Nigeria and all ethnicities must not condone the practice of unprovoked attacks, or killings of protesters which are purely acts of state terrorism.
“The Nigerian government must honour obligation under arms trade treaty or be prepared to face international sanction on supply of weapons. In April 2013, the United Nations adopted the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade of weapons in a way to enhance international and regional peace, and reduce human suffering, including sufferings in the hands of governments that use these weapons to suppress the citizens. Nigeria ratified and acceded to this treaty on 12 August 2013 and it came into force on 24 December 2014.
“The report by various bodies are in condemnation of interactions between peaceful protesters and Nigerian government forces. We call on Nigerian government to honour relevant obligations. A country where lethal weapons are deployed on peaceful demonstrators must be sanctioned in relation to the international treaty, and supply of such weapons must be cut off, an obligation to which the international community must stand by.
“Nigerian government must honour and recognise the right to life of the people. Article 3 Universal Declaration of the Human Rights 1948 protects the right to life. Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that persons living in Nigeria, shall have a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life unless in execution of the sentence of a court of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty. Section 33(2)(a) of the Constitution provides for lawful steps in defending citizens properties.
“The government of Federal Republic of Nigeria has demonstrated alarming degree of failure on these grounds. Considering the degree of loss of lives and property, we are calling on governors of all Yoruba States, and all other states where well meaning citizens are directly having their fundamental human right to life compromised, to do more to ensure protection of lives and properties in their states, and regions. Lastly the world is watching particularly as the anniversary of Independence of the country approaches and we demand that the rights of the people be observed to the full dictates of the law.”