By Chinelo Obogo
A coalition of Concerned Civil Society Organisations have warned those who plan to carry out peaceful demonstration on October 20 in remembrance of the Endsars protest to be mindful of any form of violence.
Speaking during a press conference in Lagos recently, the spokesperson, Mr. Nelson Ekujumi, said even though they recognise the rights of citizens to air their grievances, it is admonishing that such actions must be exercised within the ambits of the law and with recognition of the fact that other persons rights must not be infringed upon in the process.
The coalition appealed to those planning to stage another anniversary protest to rethink it in view of the likelihood of the forces of evil hijacking their protest again to unleash mayhem and called on the Nigerian Police Force to recognise the fundamental rights of citizens and urge it to exhibit professionalism in its efforts to protect the economic and human rights of Lagosians to move without hindrance.
“As we look backwards with pain and anguish over the unwarranted destruction of lives and properties as result of the 2020 Endsars protest in Lagos, it is important to situate the issues in proper perspective to prevent a reoccurrence of the mayhem that rose from it.
“The Endsars protest of October 2020 which blew across the country though legitimate because it was an agitation against impunity and lack of accountability in public office, encapsulated in the activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), nevertheless at the end of the day, it left a sour taste in our mouth and sorrow in our hears because of the needless killings of civilians, security agents, looting, destruction of public and private assets that trailed it, most particularly in Lagos which was the hardest hit.
“Following the continuous blockade of roads and highway by the Endsars protesters and its attendant economic and social dislocations which was an invitation to public disorder, concerned citizens and public interest groups made frantic efforts in calling on the government to accede to the demands of the protesters in order to avert a breakdown of law and order. The effect of the calls from various quarters to allow peace reign because of the looming threat to national security must have motivated top government functionaries at various states to join in the protests and assure protesters that their voices have been heard and their demands would be attended to.
“Unfortunately, on October 20 2020, Lagosians were shocked by the unprovoked attack on a detachment of RRS policemen in trucks and patrol vans by the Endsars protesters at the Adekunle axis of the Third Mainland Bridge in Ebute Meta. Realising that the police were incapable of maintaining law and order by the seeming lawlessness which had overtaken the state, the Lagos State government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state to arrest the drift to breakdown of law and order which was to commence at 4pm on October 20 but due to public outcry that law abiding citizens may be caught outside their homes in traffic and other places due to the hurriedly and necessary imposed curfew, the commencement tome was shifted to 21 hours.
“We recognize the inalienable rights of citizens to ventilate their grievances but must admonish that it must be exercised within the ambits of the law and with recognition of the fact that other persons rights must not be infringed upon in the process.
“We appeal to those planning to stage another anniversary protest to rethink in view of the likelihood of the forces of evil hijacking their protest again to unleash mayhem. We call on the Nigerian Police Force to recognise the fundamental rights of citizens and urge it to exhibit professionalism in its efforts to protect the economic and human rights of Lagosians to move without hindrance. As law abiding citizens, we want it placed on record that our commitment to ensure that peace reigns in Lagos for the good of all is irrevocable,” the coalition said.