The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has condemned the acts of violence that have characterised the ongoing #ENDSARS protests in Nigeria.
The body urged both protesters and the government to uphold peace in their interactions during this period to prevent further loss of lives.
This was contained in a statement signed by the President of the commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, 21st October 2020.
These comments follow nationwide peaceful demonstrations against the actions of the now rogue Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which turned chaotic and left an unconfirmed number of people dead and others injured..
“While ECOWAS Commission recognizes the right of citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protests, it is also of the view that those rights should be exercised in a non-violent manner. In this regard, ECOWAS Commission calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations. It also urges the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally,” the document read.
The international body called for swift investigations into the allegations levelled against the recently disbanded SARS.
The #EndSARS protests have been going on for close to two weeks with initial calls for major Police reforms changing to demands for better governance.
After some sporadic cases of targeted violence at some key protest spots, the Governor of the country’s commercial hub, Lagos, announced an indefinite 24-hour curfew in the state saying that protests against police brutality have “degenerated” into violence.
However, the first night of the curfew turned bloody as there were reported attacks on stranded protesters at Lekki toll booth.
This incident led to increased calls on international such as ECOWAS, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to intervene in the matter.