Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Determined to forestall a total breakdown of law and order as a result of the #EndSARS protests across Ogun State, the State Government has announced the closure of schools in the State until October 26.
The Government also suspended the operations of commercial motorcycles for 24 hours, while a joint patrol of security agencies will be deployed to ensure no threat to public security.
The State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, made the announcement Tuesday evening while briefing newsmen at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, shortly after an emergency security meeting with heads of security agencies in the State.
Abiodun, who said the security measure became necessary in the face of the protests and agitations, being hijacked to disrupt the lives of the people and the gradual slide into lawlessness, declared that the State Government would not sit idly by and watch hoodlums plunge the State into security crisis.
He noted that what started 13 days ago as peaceful demonstrations by the young Nigerians against police brutality, had since escalated into ‘violence and manifest descent into anarchy, burning of police stations, vandalization of public properties, disruption of vehicular movements on major highways, leading to traffic gridlocks, deployment of okada to transport hoodlums, extortion of members of the public at illegal barricades erected at public spaces, among others.’
He added: ‘Sometimes last week, a vehicle belonging to a top government functionary was attacked and vandalised, and very sadly, a custom officer was killed earlier on Tuesday by a mob on okadas in one of our border towns
‘The incidents in our State are not isolated cases, indeed the there are worse and gory reports of disturbing developments in other states across the country, including jail breaks and loss of lives and properties.
‘Earlier today, I held a meeting with security chiefs in the State. After an assessment of the prevailing situation, particularly emerging threats to public safety and security, as a responsible administration, we considered a number of options, including imposing a curfew on the State. However, in line with our focused, deliberate and measured approach, we are adopting the following measures in the meantime; all schools are closed till Monday, 26th October, 2020, operation of commercial motorcycle, popularly called okada, is suspended across the State for Wednesday, 21st October, in the first instance, increased security around the correctional centres and public buildings,
blockade of highways and molestation of innocent citizens going about their lawful businesses by protesters will no longer be tolerated and deployment of joint patrol teams of security agencies to ensure no threat to public security.’
While calling on youth groups to appoint leaders amongst themselves for a meeting with the Governor for further dialogue, Abiodun said his administration will be reviewing developments on a 24-hourly basis, declaring ‘we will not hesitate to announce stringent measures as may be considered necessary.
‘Let me emphasise that we cannot fold our arms and let the State descend into anarchy. No right is absolute. In exercising our rights, we must respect the rights of others. There cannot be a better tomorrow, if we destroy today and the foundation being laid for tomorrow. Let me warn that Ogun State will not be conducive to anyone who may want to test the resolve of government to provide security or those who may want to come from other states to foment trouble in our dear State. The security agencies have been directed to ensure full compliance with the measures announced to ensure security of lives and properties,’ Abiodun stated.
The Governor appealed to parents, guardians, traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders in the State to rein in their children and wards to avoid any act that may breach public peace or bring them into a confrontation with law enforcement.
The Governor also urged the people to take full advantage of the windows available to express grievances in a peaceful manner, including the Ogun State Human Rights Complaints Report portal and allow time for full implementation of the various government initiatives in response to their demands.
‘We must continue to be on eagle alert so that some unscrupulous element who do not have the love of this nation at heart; who do not share the same development ideals; who may want to take advantage of this situation for their selfish motives, to hijack the process. Our nation can ill-afford such a scenario. I have no doubt that, together, we can build a stronger, united and prosperous nation,’ the Governor submitted.