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#Endsars: Buhari tolerated protesters’ excesses despite destruction of lives, properties – Malami

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Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, says President Muhammadu Buhari tolerated the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters, showing leniency despite the violations and destructions which resulted from the crisis that followed the demonstrations.

In October 2020, Nigerian youths took to the streets in many parts of the country to protest against police brutality, while calling for the disbandment of the now-defunct special anti-robbery squad (SARS). The protests which started out peacefully initially got infiltrated by hoodlums resulting in loss of lives and destruction of properties.

Speaking on Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, Malami said no nation in the world would tolerate the destruction of its security institutions, adding that over 200 policemen were killed in the process of the purported freedom of expression.

“I think the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been very, and indeed extraordinarily, lenient with the human rights protection and that was indeed what caused the problems associated with the violations of the  #EndSARS protests,” he said.

“Take for example, no nation in the world could have tolerated a situation whereby over 200 of its policemen were killed in the purported process of freedom of expression. Nigeria has tolerated that.

“No nation in the world could have tolerated the idea of destruction to its security institutions. I think over 20 police stations or more — I’m not certain about the number, they can be more — were destroyed during #EndSARS protests and government has a responsibility to ensure protection of lives and freedom of movement.

“We were confronted with a situation whereby #EndSARS protesters blocked roads, caused mayhem, caused deaths, caused destruction, and they were significantly tolerated to a certain extent.”

The attorney-general argued that it is logical to conclude that Buhari protected human rights, owing to how the president “accommodated and tolerated the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters”.

“I think it is only logical for one to conveniently, logically and justifiably conclude that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown greater zeal in terms of protection, and indeed given the accommodation to human rights, to the extent of perhaps accommodating the excesses, which ordinarily ought to have been engaged and confronted squarely,” Malami added.

“As far as the human rights record of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned, the facts speak for itself.

“International commendation; local compliance with the recommendation of the national human rights commission which has been unprecedented; tolerance, and indeed, accommodation of the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters, were all facts that go to establish a point that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown greater accommodation of human rights violations.”

Speaking on the decision of the court to unfreeze the account of #EndSARS protesters Malami said the decision to comply with the court order or not would not be out of intimidation, adding that the government cannot be intimidated.

Government is not wrong particularly in circumstances that justifies intense investigation. It is the end result of an investigation that can determine whether government is right or wrong as determined by the court on the basis of the facts presented.

“The decision to comply with the court order or not is not a decision that is a product of intimidation; government cannot be intimidated, government cannot in anyway be compromised as far as the exercise of its constitutional powers are concerned but that does not mean the government is perpetually inconsiderate.

“The bottom-line is that the public interest matters most in whatever decision the government arrives at as far as compliance or non-compliance with the orders or judgments of the court are concerned. Intimidation is out of it, threats are out of it, constitutionality is the bottom-line.”

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