THE Northern State Governors on Thursday after a meeting called on Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari and ‘resist the enemies of the nation’ who are ‘violently pushing for regime change outside the ballot box’.
The forum comprising of nineteen governors from the northern part of the country issued this in a communique signed by Simon Lalong, Plateau State Governor, who currently serves as its chairman.
According to the forum, the #EndSARS protests which went on for 12 days in several states across the country, with thousands of Nigerian youths trooping out to demand an end to police brutality, had outlived its purpose and lent room for the destruction of lives and properties, truncating its legitimacy in seeking police reform in the country.
The group said it discussed the dimensions of the #EndSARS protests and was worried that the protests persisted despite the “generosity” of the Federal Government and calls by State Governments for an end to the movement that has also attracted the attention of the international community.
The #EndSARS protesters had demanded the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a rogue unit of the Nigerian Police Force notorious for committing crimes against Nigerians including extortion, murder and armed robbery. The list includes the improvement of police welfare among others.
In response, Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on Sunday, October 11 announced the dissolution of SARS, but on October 15, the Northern Governors’ Forum rejected the disbandment of the rogue unit, stating that the unit is not made up of bad elements alone, but also officers who are diligent in combating crimes.
The forum in its communique suggested that the protests which began with a clear-cut demand for the disbandment of SARS had outstretched its purpose.
Notwithstanding, several other reports have established the necessity of the citizens’ campaign against police brutality.
In its 2018 report titled Nigeria: Time to End Impunity, Amnesty International, a global human rights advocacy group that has investigated torture and ill-treatment by SARS officers for over a decade, detailed how young Nigerians were subjected to various forms of torture and human rights abuses by SARS officers.
The report also stated that SARS officers are hardly investigated or brought to justice for their crime – a demand that birthed the #EndSARS movement and has now led to the killing of youths across the country.
Human Rights Watch, a global NGO tracking abuses of rights across the world, has also reported about the Crackdown on Police Brutality Protests in Nigeria.
On Tuesday, scores of protesters at the Lekki toll gate who sat and waved the Nigeria flag while reciting the National Anthem were forcefully dispersed by soldiers who opened fire at them. Many were reportedly killed and wounded. But despite the evidence, President Buhari remains silent about the violent attack during his much-awaited national broadcast on Thursday.
The president in the speech called on the protesters to “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos.” He also warned that his administration will not tolerate any act that “undermines national security and the law and order situation.”
Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).