STATEMENT OF SIR AHMADU BELLO MEMORIAL FOUNDATION ON (END SARS) PROTESTS.
The Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation has observed unfolding events in the country for the past two weeks and wishes to make the following statements with respect to the protests going on in some cities across the country.
1. The Foundation recognizes the right of citizens to peaceful and orderly protests within the confines of the law to drive home their grievances. This inalienable right is a fundamental and globally recognized ingredient of democracy.
2. The END SARS protests enbarked upon by youth in some parts of the country is a demonstration of the right of citizens to express themselves and register their concerns against unwholesome acts of operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force. We recognize that following reported cases of extortion, intimidation and in some instances extra judicial killings by SARS operatives, there is urgent need for comprehensive reforms of the policing system in the country.
3. Quite responsibly, the Federal Government through the Police Force, saw reason and yielded to the five point demands of the protesting citizens by disbanding SARS, seting up judicial panels of enquiries to probe atrocities being committed by the Police, in addition to other measures taken to address the concerns of citizens.
4. While the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation welcomed the initial peaceful conduct of the protesting youth, and government’s quick response towards resolving the crisis, we are however dismayed by the recent turn of events which is leading to serious breach of the law.
It is most regrettable that the protests have now become avenues for clashes between rival protest groups, with hoodlums having a field day as they attack citizens, burn and destroy public and private properties.
5. We are therefore, calling on the organisers of the protests to ensure that they give peace a chance by yielding to the overtures of government for swift resolution of the impasse. Protesters must act responsibly in order that the crisis does not degenerate to full blown anarchy. Already, some lives have been lost, and properties destroyed.
6. We further appeal to all parents, community leaders, religious and traditional leaders to wade into the matter by prevailing on the protesting youth to toe the lines of lawful engagement for peace to reign. Innocent citizens should not be killed and /or their properties destroyed on the basis of their tribe, religion or the sections of the country they come from.
7. The Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation further calls on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, take all steps within its lawful powers to ensure that the protests and riots do not drift to total anarchy.
Government should also ensure that criminal elements hiding behind the protests to perpetrate unlawful acts are fished out and made to face the due processes of the law.
A thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Lekki shooting and several other incidences of mayhem across the country must be carried out.
8. We extend our sympathies to the families of those who most have lost loved ones during this period and all those adversely affected by the crises. We pray for the support of citizens for the return of normalcy in the country soonest.
Engr Abubakar Gambo Umar
Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation