5th February, 2021
By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture has accused Amnesty International (AI) of a deliberate plot to destabilise the country with baseless allegations against the Buhari-led administration and its military.
He made the accusation when he appeared on a TV Continental programme, “This Morning’’, monitored on Friday.
The minister was reacting to a recent report by AI, a global movement, on a campaign to end abuses of human rights, on a purported crackdown and killings of EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, in October 2020.
AI had accused the government of a cover-up in the handling of the case and called for the arrest and prosecution of the country’s former Service Chiefs in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged human rights violation.
Speaking at the programme, the minister said AI, like most other groups, has refused to proffer evidence that people were shot dead at the Lekki Toll Gate on the day of the incident.
“We challenge Amnesty International, if it has any proof, to please come forward with such names, addresses and convincing evidence that such people were killed at the toll gate.
“The truth of the matter is that a coterie of NGO, led by Amnesty International, has been dispensing fake news about what transpired at the toll gate.
Lai said the best and most transparent way to prove that lives were lost at the toll gate was by appearing before the Panel of Enquiry set up by the Lagos State Government.
Recall that the panel had invited anybody who has been victims of EndSARS brutality or anyone whose family has been the victim of extrajudicial killing to come forward.
“More than 100 days after, we are yet to see anybody come out to say, my son, my daughter or my ward went to the toll gate plaza to protest and has not come back.
“Amnesty International has no respect for our judicial system. If they do, they would have gone to testify rather than churning out fake reports and arriving at baseless conclusion even before the panel has commenced its job,’’ he said.
The minister also accused the organisation of double standard in its assessment of human rights violations.
He said Amnesty International had two sets of laws – one for Nigeria and other developing countries and the other for the developed part of the world.
Mohammed explained that when the U.S. Authorities were searching for people that invaded Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and killed four law enforcement officers, there was no complaint from AI.
He said, whereas, when the Nigeria Authority started to arrest hoodlums who participated in the killing of 37 Policemen, six Soldiers and responsible for unprecedented destruction of property during the EndSARS protest, AI found its voice,
The minister said, whereas, the perpetrators of Capitol Hill killings were regarded as domestic terrorists but those who carried out the fatal and destructive protest in Nigeria were called innocent protesters.
He said during the EndSARS protest, the social media platforms were abused to dispense fake news.
Mohammed said when the government wanted to take action against some media platforms over the abuse, it was accused of stifling the media.
He said, conversely, when the Twitter account of former U.S. President, Donald Trump, was suspended for inciting crisis, there was no word from the body.
The minister noted that until the developing countries like Nigeria continue to speak out and call out organisations like AI, for so long they would be the weeping boys for the entire international community.