BEING A PRESS RELEASE BY LAWYERS ALERT
For Decades, the Mbayion community, located in Gboko local government area of Benue State, home to cement extraction has suffered diverse human rights abuses by the State and Private Sector in the course of extracting the natural resources from the land.
The Cement Company, then known as Benue Cement Company, now Dangote Cement, has over the years, subjected the community to varying human rights violations, such as pollution of water, environmental degradation, abuse of labour (low wages), dangerous processing of excavation without regards to human lives which has resulted in several deaths over the years, etc.
The problem of the community however, has quadrupled since the acquisition of the Cement Company by Dangote Holdings. These violations have now taken a new level of impunity since the Company became Dangote Cement
Lawyers Alert can authoritatively speak on this, as we have over the last one year, lived in and are with the community in efforts to monitor, harvest and document these rights violations. We have within this period, with the community leading the process, documented over 500 violations, now waiting to undergo scientific analysis before the release of our report.
It is against this background that we condemn in all entireties the recent killing of several members of the community by soldiers guarding the premises of Dangote Cement.
These senseless killings started with the soldiers shooting a member of the community for defecating near the Company. As this member of the community battled for his life in the hospital, youths in the full and constitutional expression of their rights to protest, held placards and stood in front of the Company demanding explanations. The reply they got for being without arms and weapons was live bullets from the soldiers leading to several deaths (8 confirmed).
Lawyers Alert totally condemn these killings and is worried about the continuous orgy of extrajudicial killings gradually now being acquiesced and tolerated in our community. How else do you explain soldiers who should be protecting the territorial integrity of a nation, mowing down citizens in cold blood in the heart of a country when these citizens are not armed.
Government has failed to react one week after the incident. This is regrettable.
We commend the community for keeping calm and constituting a community team to investigate these killings. It gives us joy that the leader of the team is a respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Sebastian Hon, SAN.
Lawyers Alert calls on the Chief of Army Staff to act by incorporating these investigations by the community or complementing the efforts of the community and bring the culprits to book immediately.
Lawyers Alert calls for the withdrawal of soldiers from this company and demand they be posted to the North-Eastern Nigeria where insurgency is on a party.
We call on the President and Commander in Chief in like vein to seek explanations and answers to killing of citizens by soldiers in a no war zone.
Lawyers Alert will work closely with the community and the State towards seeking and ensuring that Justice is done.
Rommy Mom ESQ
President, Lawyers Alert.
29th March 2014.