Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Hours after soldiers opened fire on EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate, President Muhammadu Buhari, has again appealed to Nigerians to show understanding with his administration and remain calm, assuring that police reforms will be implemented.
This is as he welcomed the establishment of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry by 13 states to probe cases of police brutality and bring justice for victims across the country.
The president, who made his feelings known in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja, yesterday, said the establishment of the panel was in line with the resolution of the National Economic Council (NEC).
The NEC, under the chairmanship of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at its meeting on Oct. 15, 2020 resolved to establish State-level Judicial Panels of Inquiry, to investigate allegations of police brutality and ensure that all erring personnel are brought to justice.
States that have set up the panels so far are: Lagos, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Plateau, Edo, Nasarawa, Ondo and Akwa Ibom.
Buhari lauded the promptness of these necessary subnational actions, and reaffirmed his commitment to supporting the State Governments to ensure that justice is achieved for all victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
The statement said prior to that, the president had in June 2019 signed a Bill establishing the Police Trust Fund, to mobilise additional funding for the welfare and equipping of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Accrual of funding into the Fund, as specified in its enabling Act, has commenced.’’
It also recalled that the president had in 2018 approved an increase in police salaries.
The police personnel budget has risen from N288 billion in the 2018 Budget to N417 billion in the proposed 2021 budget, an increase of 45 per cent.
While inaugurating the Nigerian Police Pension Fund Limited building on October 20, he also reiterated continuous support for both serving and retired police personnel.
The president has equally approved the rollout and funding of a new Community Policing Initiative, as part of a larger programme of police reform in Nigeria, aimed at rewriting the rules of engagement between the Force and citizens.
Indications emerged yesterday that in view of the ongoing of the precaious security situation, particularly the nationwide protests and Lekki shooting, President Buhari may convoke a security council meeting today. The council headed by the president consists of heads of all security agencies in the country.
Reps minority caucus react
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the alleged killing of peaceful and unarmed protesters by suspected security operatives at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on Tuesday.
The lawmakers expressed displeasure in a statement by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta).
He said the alleged extra-judicial killing of defenceless citizens by suspected agents of state could not be justified or condoned under any guise.
He called on President Buhari to order an investigation into the allegation and bring the officers to justice if found guilty.
“Life is sacred and no one has the right to terminate the life of another just because he has the apparatus of state power.
“Such brazen brutally and defilement of right to life, which is at the center of the on-going protests across the nation, underscores the demand for an immediate and total overhaul of our nation’s security architecture.
“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the arrest and prosecution of officers involved in the Lekki killing as well as the withdrawal of soldiers from engaging protesters,” he stated.
Elumelu restated the caucus’ call on the president to urgently rejig the nation’s security architecture through extensive reforms and urgent replacing of Service Chiefs.
Protest heading for new Nigeria –MASSOB
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) has predicted that the ongoing nationwide protest may eventually lead to a revolution.
Leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, in a statement commended the youths for their courage in staging the protest, bur feared it could disintegrate the country.
“MASSOB earlier warned that Nigeria is sitting on a tickling time bomb which will eventually blow. What is happening in western and mid western regions of Nigeria is a warming up for the real revolution that will eventually engulf the entire nation. President Muhammadu Buhari and his corrupt cabals running the affairs of over two million citizens to the detriment of the people will never see peace. Buhari and Bola Tinubu must reap what they sow.
“During 2019 elections, Bola Tinubu openly and carelessly motivated and sponsored the Yoruba youths against Ndigbo in Lagos, our people’s live and properties were threatened because of election. Today, the same Yoruba youths are rewarding Bola Tinubu for all his atrocious and bizarre actions against the citizens.
“MASSOB reiterated our earlier warning that President Mohammadu Buhari remains the last president of Nigeria. His primitivism and unrepentant fundamentalism of Islamic believe has blinded his eyes and brain of reasoning which led to his running of Nigeria government as a Fulani empire.
“Nigeria is doomed forever, the revolution will continue to rage. Nigerian youths have justified the position of MASSOB and Biafra actualisation and restoration struggle. Though MASSOB will remain and maintain our principals of non violence, we support every activities or agendas or actions that will break up Nigeria,” Madu said.
IPOB urges parents to join protest
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has urged the protesting youths to sustain their protest despite the curfew and restrictions.
Leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, who stated this, yesterday, appealed to parents and every adult to join in the protest to rescue the future for the youths.
The IPOB leader, in a statement by the spokesperson, Emma Powerful, enjoined the protesters not to be afraid.
“As our leader predicted, the oppressors will try every option including shooting at protesters to quell the protest, but nobody should be deterred. We call on every youth, man and woman to join the protests now. This is the time everybody should identify with this movement to rescue our collective future and destiny from suffocation by the Fulani Janjaweeds and jihadist cabal. Every indigenous nationality must come out to support this movement pioneered by our brave youths. It will be dangerous if Nigerians allow this effort to die down,” he said.
NBA threatens legal action against Army
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has vowed to take legal actions against the Nigerian Military over the alleged shooting and killings of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos State.
In a statement by its President, Olumide Akpata (SAN), the body of lawyers condemned what it described as “recklessness and lawlessness by the security apparatus of government in the carefully calculated and premeditated attacks.”
“From news reports on the incident, many lives were lost in the attack while several others were injured during the melee that ensued. The NBA strongly condemns this act of recklessness and lawlessness by the security apparatus of the Government in what, based on reports available to us, appears to have been a carefully calculated and premeditated attack.
The NBA states that even if the protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza were in breach of the curfew imposed by government, such a misdemeanour or breach did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the Nigerian military to confront otherwise peaceful, unarmed and defenceless protesters. To be clear, the events of today are events that we should never see or consider as normal in any democracy.”
Editors Guild flays attack
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has lent its voice to the condemnation of the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters by security men in different parts of the country.
The NGE, in a statement said challenged President Buhari to address the nation to calm frayed nerves.
It said there was nothing wrong in actively engaging in dialogue with the aggrieved youths.
The statement read in part: “The NGE is worried over the dramatic turn the #EndSARS peaceful protests have taken.
“The body of editors welcomes the curfew imposed on some states following the apparent hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests by hoodlums. The Guild commends the efforts of these state governments to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“The Guild notes that the restriction of movement in parts of the country does not give law enforcers any right to harass and intimidate persons on essential duties, especially journalists who are on the frontline in the discharge of their constitutional duty of gathering, processing and disseminating information. The Guild will not tolerate the harassment of such journalists. They should be allowed unfettered access to places of interest to them as they strive under this atmosphere of insecurity to carry out their legitimate responsibilities.”
The Guild also advised journalists to be security conscious in these trying times.
The apparent hijack of the protests by hoodlums should not be used as an excuse by the Government not to address the legitimate demands of the #EndSARS protesters.
We can’t afford turning to refugees – Kwara Gov
Nigerians must eschew actions that could spark another civil war and turn citizens to refugees elsewhere, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq cautioned.
Speaking at the 45th anniversary of the Emir of Lafiagi Alhaji Sa’adu Kawu Haliru in Lafiagi, the governor appealed for caution and peaceful resolutions of contending issues as the #EndSARS protests — now marred by arson — fester in some parts of the country.
“We need peace for Nigeria to succeed. There are various forces wanting to tear us apart. We must not allow that to happen,” he said, appealing to protesters and other citizens to embrace peace.
“In the 1960s, there was a civil war that almost tore us apart. We must not allow that again. This is our fatherland. If we tear ourselves apart, we may become refugees elsewhere or become displaced in our own country. Let us stay together, let us resolve our differences. Let us remain peaceful as we are in Kwara.
“We thank our youths for being peaceful in Kwara and we also continue to seek the support of traditional rulers to help us maintain peace in this state. I know they are doing their best and reaching out to our youth. Let us remain peaceful.”