By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has expressed concerns at the violent twist that the ongoing #EndSARS protests by youths across the country have taken, urging them to a ceasefire.
Chief Press Secretary CPS to the Governor, Onogwu Muhammed in a statement Tuesday in Abuja said Bello made the call in a broadcast to Nigerian youths on the ongoing protests for reforms in the Police Force.
He quoted Gov. Bello as urging the protesters not to lose the battle has already won the war.
The governor said he was concerned at the manner the protests which began on a peaceful note were now being infiltrated by criminal elements who are engaging in the destruction of public facilities.
According to him, Nigerian youths have been able to make their voices heard loudly through the protests which had already prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the SARS and equally promised far-reaching reforms in the Police.
“I, and many people of goodwill who have stood with this cause are thus understandably pained by the needless and violent escalation we witnessed in several places yesterday.
“We are now concerned that what has been a generally peaceful citizens’ protest is now threatening to dissolve into mindless attacks on government facilities and running battles with the Police.
“Greatest and ever gallant Nigerian Youths, from what we saw yesterday, the ranks of genuine protesters have been infiltrated by criminal elements armed with dangerous weapons. Not only that but they are acting in pursuit of nefarious intents which have no nexus with your noble objectives.
“I hold the opinion that you have won a battle, and I must now urge you not to lose the war. Protesters have a tangible and moral victory in the bag, and it is wisdom to safeguard it.
“It is now time to step back and explore other forms of dissent which will not provide crowd cover for persons and agenda which you obviously do not endorse. The nation’s leadership must also be accorded some time and breathing space to push through on promises of change”, he said.
The Governor also called for the highest level of professionalism and patience on the part of security operatives.
“In the absence of clear and present threat to lives, there is almost no circumstance under which it is right to engage protesting citizens with extreme prejudice. It is neither morally justifiable nor an acceptable function of the policing duty.
“To all and sundry, I urge that the events of yesterday must not be allowed to continue. It is time to let good sense and dialogue prevail all around.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari also acceded to your requests and through the Inspector-General of Police totally disbanded the unit on Sunday, 11th October 2020.
“Amongst other undertakings, Mr. President promised to set up a Forum for the regular interface between the Public and the Police. In addition, he agreed to an inquiry into abuses against citizens by the disbanded unit, with a view to ensuring redress.
“Mr. President further made it clear in a personal broadcast yesterday, Monday the 12th, that the demobilisation of SARS was only the first step in a broader spectrum of reforms designed to address wide-ranging questions of discipline and performance by the police and other law enforcement agencies.
“Dear Nigerian Youth, Mr President is someone I trust and believe in, please join me in trusting him as we are confident that he will push through the reforms”, the governor counselled.