Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari government not to use brute force to address the #EndSARS protests.
Obasanjo in a statement on Wednesday, also expressed sadness and concern over the recent violence and chaos in many parts of the country, calling for peace and dialogue.
“I particularly appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, in capacities as President of Nigeria, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and a parent of youth like the ones who have in the last week come out in peaceful protest against police brutality and for improvement in their lives and their living conditions, to restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of ending the crisis,” the former Nigerian leader added.
“The shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration. Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.”
“It is clear that Mr. President and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resulting to use of force.
“It is worse that there is a denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control”.
While admitting that the country is in a critical moment, he said President Buhari must take action before it becomes late, stressing that mature leadership is needed at this time.
“Most of the demands of the protesting youth, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the President, are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened,” he added.
“It is imperative that leaders at all levels, starting from Mr. President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity, and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice is served where it must be served. These are the most potent ways of ending this crisis now”.
According to him, “The youth too must give peace a chance while making their legitimate demands. They must be mindful of miscreants who will infiltrate their ranks and give the protests a bad name only so that trigger – happy forces will kill them.
“The destruction and looting of public and private properties will hurt all of us and set us back. The targeting of individuals and groups for attacks and reprisal attacks will only further widen our divisions, escalate the crisis, and threaten our fragile unity.”