The petition of residents of the constituency of Newcastle Upon Tyne Central,
Declares that the British Government and wider international community should condemn in the strongest possible terms the Nigerian military opening fire on protesters at Lagos Lekki Toll Gate on 20 October 2020 in which there are reports that 69 people were killed, of whom 51 are believed to be civilians, 11 police officers and seven were soldiers; further declares that these people were peacefully protesting against police brutality committed by, but not limited to, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take action to rally the international community and ensure the Nigerian Government investigates this brutal violation of human rights in full, to encourage the relevant authorities to charge officers and soldiers guilty of killing unarmed protestors, to explore sanctions on the Nigerian Government if guilty of corruption, and to provide a strong voice against corruption and violence in Nigeria.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Chi Onwurah, Official Report, 17 November 2020; Vol. 684, c. 286.]
Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (James Duddridge):
The UK Government were deeply concerned by violence during #EndSARS protests in Nigeria in October 2020, which tragically claimed lives. Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected.
In response, the Foreign Secretary issued a statement calling for an end to the violence and for the Nigerian Government to urgently investigate reports of brutality by their security forces and hold those responsible to account. The Minister for Africa publicly encouraged the Nigerian authorities to restore peace and address concerns over brutality towards civilians. He reiterated these messages when he spoke to Foreign Minister Onyeama in October.
In November 2020, the Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton), participated in a Westminster Hall Debate on behalf of the Government on imposing sanctions following the protests and the authorities’ response.
The Government welcomed the Nigerian authorities’ decision to disband the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the establishment of judicial panels on inquiry to investigate alleged incidents of brutality by the security services. We recognise that there is not yet clarity over the number of people killed in Lagos during the protests. The panels must investigate all incidents fully, including those in Lagos.
The Minister for Africa and my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), the UK Trade Envoy to Nigeria, have both stressed the importance of the police and military’s co-operation with the panels to the President’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, including during their joint visit in April 2021. The British high commissioner in Abuja has also raised the protests with representatives of the Nigerian Government and will continue to do so. Most panels are expected to report by summer 2021. The UK Government will continue to follow developments closely and we will consider our response.
On 26 April, we established the global anti-corruption sanctions regime. The global anti-corruption sanctions regime stands alongside the global human rights sanctions regime, established in July 2020, to give the UK an additional, powerful tool to prevent and combat corruption by allowing for sanctions to be imposed on those involved in serious corruption around the world. We keep all evidence and potential listings under close review. It is long-standing practice not to speculate on future sanctions designations as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.
Alongside international and civil society partners, we will continue to push the Nigerian police to uphold human rights and the rule of law in all operations, investigate any incidents of brutality and hold those responsible to account.