Joe Effiong, Uyo
Members of the South-South Legacy Group, a civil society organisation, have raised the alarm about armed robbers, ritualists and kidnappers having infiltrated the ranks of #EndSARS protesters to cause havoc and turn the demonstrations violent.
While staging a peaceful walk around major streets in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Monday, the Legacy Group said that as much as they are in support of the #EndSARS youth protest, it was time to reflect on the gains so far recorded by the protesters by giving the government time to meet the demands so as not to give criminal elements an opportunity to hijack it.
Just as the #EndSARS protesters which held theirs simultaneously at Ibom Plaza, Uyo, the Legacy Group members, chanting solidarity songs, also displayed placards with such inscriptions as: “Good governance is a right and not a privilege”, “Our strength lies in our youths”, “Nigeria is for all of us, let there be peace”.
Addressing their members at the Millennium Park, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom branch Co-ordinator of the group, Mr Bassey Awa, called on the youths to give the President Muhammadu Buhari enough time to implement the reforms he has started with the disbandment of SARS, reasoning that prolonging the protests would cause further damage to the economy already weakened by the COVID-19 lockdown.
‘Mr President has acted swiftly to the #EndSARS protests, directing the IGP that there must be reforms in the SARS. And one of the things Nigerians said was no to SARS. The IGP has ordered the immediate disbandment of SARS and that was carried out to the letter,’ he said.
‘It’s no longer business as usual. Nigerians have succeeded and we want to thank the Nigerians youths for that great feat
‘But you see that armed robbers, kidnappers, Yahoo Boys, ritualists and people who have used the subsidy to milk Nigeria dry for many years have congregated to sabotage Nigerian democracy in order to instil anarchy in the country.
‘And Nigerians in Akwa Ibom State have decided to come out in their numbers to say no to criminality. We are not unaware of the fact that we just came out of the lockdown caused by a global pandemic. If we continue to protest we will cause more harm to Nigeria,’ he said
Another member of the group, Imoh Akpan, explained that the reason for their protest was to tell the broader protest movement that their actions cannot continue forever, even as he agreed that SARS had brutalised and traumatised many Nigerians. He said that there was the need for the #EndSARS protests to come to an end and allow the government to take charge.
‘The high handedness of the police has ended most Nigerians in fatalities. Others have been so brutalised and have been so traumatised and psychologically dislocated. And just like human beings, there is a time for everything, there is an extent to which you can push people.
‘And I think that time has come and Nigerians have moved in unison, spontaneously asking for an end to police brutality. And the metaphor for the police Brutality in Nigeria is represented by SARS.
‘In a jiffy, this movement is telling our colleagues that we cannot protest forever. Hoodlums, saboteurs, have keyed into the process. A lot of violence has been reported in Lagos, in Abuja, Benin, so long as you have a movement that is not properly coordinated and it is not allocated time, it is going to go out of hand and we are saying Nigeria is ours,’ Akpan said.