The Enugu Network of Civil Society Organisations (ENSNet) has condemned the Enugu State Government’s use of force against protesting traders, following recent events that led to tragic fatalities. The incident occurred last Wednesday at the Ogbete Main Market in Enugu, where tensions escalated amid enforcing the Governor’s SIT-AT-HOME order.
ENSNet has expressed grave concerns regarding the government’s approach to handling the ban on the SIT-AT-HOME order, emphasising that the use of force runs counter to democratic principles and is not a suitable course of action. Although they acknowledged the economic implications of the order, ENSNet firmly believes that resorting to violence is neither justifiable nor conducive to resolving the situation.
A key point of contention raised by the civil society organisation is the closure of shops belonging to traders who opted not to open their businesses on Mondays. ENSNet argues that the government lacks the legal authority to take such action, as the right to property is protected under the Constitution. They assert that these closures infringe upon the traders’ rights without due process, adding to the gravity of the situation.
Furthermore, ENSNet has called on the Enugu State Government to take responsibility for the loss of lives during the protest and compensate the affected families appropriately. Additionally, they question the government’s claims of external involvement in the protests, drawing attention to potential security lapses in the area.
In light of the escalating tensions, ENSNet has urged prominent human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to intervene and closely monitor developments in Enugu State. Their emphasis is on fostering dialogue and persuasion instead of resorting to intimidation, thereby upholding democratic values and protecting the rights of citizens.
The civil society organisation also appealed to the government to reconsider its conditions for reopening the sealed shops. It called on the authorities to approach the situation with justice, peace, integrity, and honour in mind.
The press release, jointly signed by the president of International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative and Chairman of ENSNet, Comrade Osmond Ugwu, and Executive Director of REDFoundation and Secretary of ENSNet, Comrade Ugonna Ozor, emphasises the urgency of a peaceful resolution and the protection of citizens’ rights in Enugu State. As the situation remains tense, the eyes of the nation are on how the government will respond to the growing demands for justice and accountability.