Following the United Kingdom parliament’s move to impose sanctions on government officials involved in the violation of human rights, including the shooting and killing of peaceful protesters, during the #EndSARS protests across the country, the Federal Government said it has reached out to the British government to present its own side of the story.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this to journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, yesterday.
The UK parliament debated the protest, the violence that trailed it and the alleged role of security agencies.
Onyeama, while affirming that the lawmakers were not responsible for imposing sanctions, however, noted that it was necessary to give to the UK government Nigeria’s own position to enable them have a balanced perspective.
“Yes, we have reached out to the UK government. The meeting that took place were parliamentarians and don’t speak for UK government…
“So, we have been in touch with them and engaging with them. And of course, as in any democracy, the members of parliament are able to also air their view.
“But what is important is that balanced picture is made available to them before they take any decision,” he said.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has applauded the resolve of the British parliament.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party urged the British government to extend the proposed sanctions to include freezing of assets and funds belonging to such officials and their families in the United Kingdom.
It also urged the United Nations and other international bodies to immediately list government officials indicted for crimes against humanity in the last five years.
The statement read in part: “We also call on other countries, including United States, France, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa among others to impose similar sanctions against indicted officials of the Buhari administration for human rights violations and crime against humanity.
“Such sanctions should also be imposed on officials indicted for undermining our democracy and electoral system.
“The international community must call out President Buhari, as the buck stops on his table, as the commander-in-chief, under whose watch, human rights violations including arbitrary arrests and detention in dehumanizing facilities, widespread extrajudicial killings, sudden disappearances of dissenting voices, disregard to rule of law, disobedience to court orders and foisting of siege mentality on the citizenry, have become the order of the day.
“Indeed, the manifest use of brute force, including the deployment of the military with live ammunition, in addition to recruiting of armed thugs to attack and kill innocent Nigerian youths, who were in peaceful demonstration against widespread police brutality and other systemic injustices, underscores the horrible situation in Nigeria under President Buhari as detailed in earlier reports by Amnesty International and US Department of State among other international bodies.
“Rather than providing answers to these troubling questions, the Federal Government is desperate to gag Nigerians, muzzle the press, shut down the social media and even threatening the international media including CNN for carrying out an investigative report on the Lekki killing while its officials continue to make contradicting claims on the matter.
“Moreover, the administration had turned a deaf ear to the demand for an independent National Truth Commission on the killings. Such stance only points to desperation for a huge cover up in the face of demand for answers by Nigerians and the international community.
“Our party, therefore, urges the international community not to relent in standing for the Nigerian people at this critical time in our national history, particularly in ensuring respect to the rights of citizens and the sanctity of our electoral system.”