Anthony Blinken in Nigeria

The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken has urged the Federal and Lagos state government to protect human rights.

The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken has urged the Federal and Lagos state government to bring individuals found to have violated human rights at the #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020, to book. He also warned again that the United States could stop providing military assistance to Nigeria which include access to hardware, military training, military weapons and equipment to fight terrorism and other forms of criminal activities if the country does not protect human rights. 

This came after the White paper on the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Restitution of Victims of SARS Abuse and other Issues was submitted. On November 15, 2021, an eight-man panel headed by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, submitted a 309-page report to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu accusing soldiers and police of killing peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020. Also in the report, the panel stated that the Lekki tollgate incident was a massacre. The panel report stated that at least nine people were killed by security personnel at the scene with forty-eight people as casualties, including twenty-two demonstrators, who were wounded by gunshot. Fifteen others were allegedly attacked by soldiers and police. 

Blinken,  in a meeting on Thursday with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso rock, said America looks forward to the response of the federal and Lagos state governments to the panel’s report. Blinken met with members of civil society in Abuja on Friday, reiterating the United States’ call for justice.

He stated, “If there is genuine transparency, accountability and change that follows from these incidents and from these abuses, I think that’s very important not only to our administration, it’s important to Congress in making judgments about continuing to provide assistance to the security forces.”

In an interview with CNN Blinken warned that if violations of human rights persist, the US government could call up the Leahy Law to deny Nigeria access to hardware, which includes weapons and other military equipment to fight terrorism and other forms of crime. The Leahy Law is an American rights ordinance that prohibits the US government from providing military assistance to foreign security forces that violate human rights with impunity.

He explained that the assistance being given to the Nigerian military was not only hardware but training to handle software to tackle terrorism and criminal activities.

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