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Calls for dialogue intensify as riots spread

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calls-for-dialogue-intensify-as-riots-spread

 Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt; Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja; AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna and Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan

AS the peaceful protests have given way to riots, the calls for dialogues to find a permanent end to police brutality intensified on Tuesday.

ActionAid Nigeria appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation and give a clear-cut response to the demands of the #EndSARS protesters before it is too late.

ActionAid Nigeria, in a statement signed by Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director of the organisation, in Abuja yesterday, said: “The protest has moved from being a social media campaign to a peaceful protest by Nigerians across the globe in the last 13 days, with clear demands on the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of unlawful arrests, torture, and extra-judicial killings.

“Nigerians anticipate clear plans, timelines, and commitments, which will be in form of a pact with the citizens.

“The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, should see this as an opportunity to write his name in the sands of time by starting the process of transforming this country, especially by responding to the demands of citizens.”

Mrs. Obi also called on security agencies to keep securing the streets to get unscrupulous elements with illegitimate interests of the peaceful protests, while respecting the rights of peaceful protesters.

“We applaud the resolve of Nigerian youths leading the revival across the country and the resolute to hold the government to account.

“However, it is pertinent that decorum is maintained while resisting any calculated attempts by unknown elements to disrupt the just cause for the total reformation of our country, Nigeria,’’ Obi said.

The Centre for Ethical Rebirth Among Young People (CERANY), an NGO, also underscored the need for a roundtable between the Federal Government and youth leaders, to address the raging #ENDSARS protests.

A statement by the President of CERANY, Mr Chuks Akamadu, said the centre endorsed the legitimacy and wishes to associate itself with the wave of peaceful protest against police brutality.

According to him, the action is patriotic and indicative of collective resolve by young people of Nigeria to ensure a better nation for themselves.

Akamadu said: “We are, however, worried that the peaceful protests, which is a right of all citizens, appears to be turning into the dimension that can make such unacceptable through infiltration by subversive element. Thereby, turning a tar brush of what ordinarily should be in the best interests of the nation.

“In view of this, CERANY wishes to urge the youths to discontinue the protest forthwith and give government benefit of the doubt and reasonable time to address germane concerns they have raised.

“This will be in the overall interest of the nation since it is common knowledge that the concerns predate the current administration of the country.

“In the same vein, CERANY wishes to propose immediate conveyance of a National Youth Leaders Conference (NYLC), with the mandate to articulate the concerns of young people and engage government in a roundtable.”

Thousands of #ENDSARS protesters yesterday took to the streets of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, calling on their colleagues across the country to vacate the streets and allow the government to address their demands.

The protesters under the auspices of Concerned Rivers Youths marched from Polo field at GRA to the state Police Command along Moscow Road, where the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, addressed them.

Displaying placards with inscriptions such as, “the real lasting victories are those of peace and not of violence”, “SARS has ended let’s dialogue”, ” we say no to SARS, we stand with Buhari”, “thank you, Mr. President, for ending SARS” among others called for dialogue between the youths and the government.

Addressing Mukan, the leader of the protest, Fred Taria, said since the government had given speedy attention to their five demands, it was time to exit the streets and major roads in the country.

He said the youths should understand that while some of their demands could be met immediately, others would take some time adding that unabated protest had allowed their enemies to hijack the civil action.

He said: “Police brutality should not be condoned at any point in our lives. We have passed the message and indeed the government has listened to us keenly. Our five demands are the immediate disbandment of SARS. Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

“Setting up of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct; Psychological evaluation and retraining of all disbanded SARS officers and an increase in police salaries and allowances.

“These have been given speedy attention. It is, therefore, important to plead with the youths that we give the government some time to further expand on their actions. As we must agree, some of our demands cannot be sufficiently attended to overnight. We cannot violently achieve sustainable peace and reform.

“Again, some enemies of our tomorrow have sponsored bandits and thugs to attack us which has led to the loss of lives and properties which we accuse the SARS operatives of doing. Please, it is imperative that we leave the streets of our dear country now, so as not to give the enemies of our country more opportunities to further ferment trouble hence distracting the government from meeting our demands.

“There is no doubt that the masses are united now which has contributed immensely to the huge success attained, but we may lose relevance if their sources of livelihood, existence and daily bread begins to be threatened by our actions via the protest as we have occupied the streets for almost two weeks now, thereby hindering and grinding economic activities. It is necessary that we adhere to this call, so as not to throw away the baby with the bathwater.

“While the youths prepare to vacate the streets, the government should further expand their actions by setting up several processes and showing adequate concerns to the plights and demands of the youths. Communication is also key in all of this, as the government needs to communicate their actions to the youths.

“We will like to deeply thank the President, Inspector General of Police and the Commissioners of Police in various states of our country, for responding swiftly by demobilising the dreaded police unit.”

Mukan commended the youths for adopting different dimension to their protest and promised that the Federal Government would not renege on its promises.

He said: “We sincerely appreciate this different dimension of protest. You demonstrated today that the future of this country belongs to you. If the government turns violence and the government properties are being destroyed, it means you are destroying your future.

“The federal government will not renege on its assurances. The Inspector-General of Police is a listening IG. When the youths demanded the end to SARS within 24 hours he disbanded it and opened room for dialogue. At the end of every demonstration, the dialogue will bring solutions to our pressing issues”.

Islamic movement backs #EndSARS protesters

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has thrown its weight behind the #EndSARS protests embark upon by majorly youths across the country.

IMN said Nigerians should continue to reject police brutality no matter the situation.

The religious group frowned at the ongoing crisis, adding that: “police brutality against peaceful Free Zakzaky protesters has long been emblematic of the inhumane and senseless. The brutality of the Nigerian police force is impossible to be justified, no matter the level of insensitivity”.

IMN said the campaign of: “illegal detentions, illegal destruction of properties, illegal extortions, illegal torture, illegal harassment and illegal executions of Sheikh Zakzaky’s supporters can never be condoned”.

While urging the Nigerian youth to keep on calling for the end of injustice, Police and Military brutality, the IMN demanded the unconditional release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife who are presently at Kaduna State Correctional facility.

It said the brutalities of the police and military will not at all deter them from demanding the release of: “our leader who has been sick and in detention for almost half a decade now. Either he is free or we are in the Abuja ways and streets in our relentless calling for and pursuit of his freedom”.

•ABUJA: Carcasses of burnt vehicles in Abuja…on Tuesday

A statement in Abuja by a top member of the Academic Forum of the Islamic movement, Abdullahi Musa, said: “In Nigeria, policing has long been turned into an instrument of terror, causing great harm and injury to innocent people who are supposed to be protected.

“What excuses or alibis have the police got for killing or injuring protesters who simply call for the immediate and unconditional release of an oppressed personage the Nigerian Army had traced to his residence, spraying him and his wife with bullets, slaying his three sons before his naked eyes, eliminating over a thousand of his followers, dragging him on the gory corpses of the murdered sons, setting his residence afire and demolishing it anon?

“The campaign of illegal detentions, illegal destruction of properties, illegal extortions, illegal torture, illegal harassment and illegal executions of Sheikh Zakzaky’s supporters can never be condoned by any civilised society, and should not be overlooked here in Nigeria to boot.”

‘Violence must be curbed’

The Nigeria Youth Organisation (NYO) yesterday warned against prolonged violence.

Its President, Abdullahi Wali, expressed worries that the protest may degenerate to a state of anarchy.

Wali said: “The proscription of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), as President Muhammadu Buhari has stated, promises to ensure that all those who are responsible for the misconducts or wrongful acts are brought to justice and renewed vigour with which corruption is being fought, we are encouraged to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

•Lagos: Protesters in Lagos…on Tuesday

“As national youth bodies, we acknowledge the genuine feelings of the youths over issues of unemployment. We empathize with all Nigerian youths and lovers of social justice for coming up with a patriotic stand to right the wrongs in our society, however, we must as a point of necessity crave towards mutual trust of peace, unity, love, stewardship and accountability to the government and people of our dearly beloved country.

“In spite of the monumental landmark achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the perpetrated unrest on the streets of Nigeria, associated by the volatile cloud of protesters over activities of the Nigeria Police Force, especially SARS and other tactical units, we have been highly worried that it may degenerate to a state of anarchy.”

Davido condemns violence, preaches peaceful protest

Renowned artist David Adeleke, aka ‘Davido’, has condemned the reported violence threatening to engulf the #EndSARS protests across the country.

Several artists had equally thrown their weight behind the protest, which had gained the support of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

The protest which came to a climax on Monday, October 20, however, had since been hijacked in Abuja and Edo by suspected hoodlums.

Reports show that hoodlums confronted protesters in Abuja during which properties were destroyed and several people were left injured.

The Edo government has also ordered a curfew following a jailbreak in Benin City, which was alleged to have been masterminded by protesters and/or prison officials.

It was against this backdrop, that Davido, through his Twitter account affirmed that the #EndSARS protest was meant to be a peaceful one.

“After seeing all that’s gone on, I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful & law-abiding.

“And as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can not be switched up on us.

“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government and private vehicles are criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement.

“#EndSars is a peaceful and law-abiding protest that is going somewhere great and no mischief can scatter it,” he said.

‘Nigeria paying the price of youth exclusion’

Frontline Labour leader and Vice President, Industrial Global Union, Comrade Issa Aremu, has said the #EndSARS protest is as a result of youth exclusion in the governance of Nigeria.

He said the development offers a timely opportunity for Nigerian governments to integrate the youths back into the socio-economic development of the country.

Speaking at a news conference in Kaduna, Aremu argued that, for too long through youth mass unemployment, prolonged closures of universities due to ASSU strikes, income poverty and Police criminalization, Nigerian youths have been pushed on the margins of the Society.

According to him, “the crisis at hand is nothing but the price for youth exclusion. If you don’t keep them busy in schools as students, in factories for those with decent jobs, if you don’t stop harassing and criminalising them on the streets, what you have is what we are seeing on our streets.”

•OSUN: Amotekun Corps members join protesters in Osun State…on Tuesday

He commended some governors for constituting the judicial panels to unravel the atrocities of the defunct SARS adding that the Federal government should also hit the ground running by having a truce with ASUU, reopen the universities and getting the students off the streets back to the classrooms. The government he also said should launch its much expected 777,000 jobs to creatively keep the youths engaged.

Ondo Varsity shut down

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo (UNIMED) in Ondo State, Prof Adesegun Fatusi, yesterday closed down the university following the ongoing EndSARS protest across the town.

This is contained in a circular signed by the university’s Vice-Chancellor himself and made available to reporters.

“Following the ongoing protest nationwide, I, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Science, Ondo, on behalf of the Senate have directed that the university should be closed down with immediate effect.

“The above information is for the strict compliance by the students as they are expected to vacate the university’s premises for their safety and protection,” he said.

The statement added that some roads in Akure, the state capital, especially Alagbaka/ First Bank road, and Owo road were locked down by the protesters.

Schools close as protests intensify in Ibadan

Most private and public schools in Oyo State did not open for academic activities Tuesday morning.

Although the state government have not made any official announcement on the school closures, most private schools said the decision was necessitated by the hardship witnessed by people on account of the EndSARS protest in major parts of the state.

More so, the schools harped on the safety and security of the children while the protests lasted.

It was observed that most schools, (especially private) opted to send the notice of school closure late in the night in the form of advisory citing the uncertain of the protest going awry.

Some public schools who solely depend on the state government directive were observed opened but with students just strolling around as many of their teachers were said to have been trapped and unable to get to school.

EndSARS: Obaseki meets security chiefs, warns violators of curfew

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