Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari has admonished protestors to “respect the right of other citizens” and “operate within the laws” of the country, making no mention of the shooting of protesters in Lagos.
In a televised address to the nation following reports by Rights group, Amnesty International that security forces killed at least 12 people in Lagos on 20th October, the President reminded citizens that although “the choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our (Nigeria) Constitution and other enactments, the right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.”
President Buhari then posited the peaceful protests have been taken over by radical individuals seeking to disrupt the peace in the country.
“I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well – intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.”
He further noted that on 12th October, he “acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.”
“As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.”
The Nigerian Head of State also expressed sympathy and regret for the lives lost as a result of protests by the Nigerian youth.
“All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.”
President Buhari then warned against the spread of false news as it paved way for “unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.”
“The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.
“On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the wellbeing and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.”
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