National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu has reacted to the ongoing nationwide protest against the extrajudicial activities of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
KanyiDaily had reported that there is an ongoing #EndSARS protest across the country against the SARS tactical unit of the Nigerian Police Force over its brutality, illegal arrest, extortion, extra-judicial killings, among others.
In a statement issued by his media aide Tunde Rahman, on Monday night, October 19, 2020, Tinubu commended Nigerian youths for the level of organisation that went into the #EndSARS protests, saying it showed a new level of consciousness that could strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
Tinubu believes that the SARS’ brutality and untoward conduct against innocent youths and other Nigerians have gone on for too long and that security outfit ought to be disbanded as demanded by the protesters.
He, however, urged the protesters to calm down and end the demonstrations that have paralysed socio-economic activities in Abuja, Benin, Lagos among other capital cities in the country.
“You have made your point. Government has made a commitment to you. Please, please and please, call off the protests,” he appealed to the protesters in the statement, adding: “Give the government a chance to implement your demands.”
According to him, his plea was based on the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping the dreaded SARS, but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests.
Tinubu noted that the protesters have made considerable gains within a very short period, urging them to be careful not to fritter away such gains due to lack of moderation and strategic thinking.
“For instance, it is unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs and assorted criminals have seized on the protests to perpetrate violence, disrupt civil life and harass, intimidate and assault innocent persons going about their lawful business.
“The intent of the organisers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted. It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalised anarchy or effect regime change.
“If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule.” Tinubu added that the vigour and vibrancy of the protests were an indication of the growing strength of the democratic culture in Nigeria.
He urged the protesters to be careful not to set the stage for the erosion or destruction of the same democratic process that gives them the freedom and right to protest in the first place.
The APC leader praised religious leaders for what he called their sense of patriotism and urged them to prevail on their teeming followers to call off the protests for now and give peace a chance.
Saying the protests have forcefully demonstrated the reality and potency of people’s power, he pleaded that the new energy must be tapped and channeled to strengthen, not weaken the country’s democracy.
“Surely, the country cannot remain the same after this,” Tinubu said, adding: “The government has demonstrated its sensitivity to the demands of the youth and must now be supported to implement the reforms it has committed itself to.”
He said it was a good sign that Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and a number of other state governors had speedily set up judicial panels of inquiry into acts of police brutality over the years and urged other state governors that are yet to do so to emulate Sanwo-Olu’s example.
“This process of change should be supported and this cannot be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are also crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Tinubu admitted that Nigeria Police needs some reorganisation but urged Nigerian youths to wait, exercise restraint for dialogue and reform promised by the government to commence.
KanyiDaily had reported that Lagos State Government revealed that it lost at least N234 million due to the closure of tollgates by #EndSARS protesters.