#ENDSARS: National Economic Council warns against another protest

Jesusegun Alagbe

The National Economic Council chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday issued an advisory warning against another #ENDSARS protest being planned by some groups and youths across the country.

NEC in a statement asked that protesters seek other lawful means to air their grievances rather than embarking on another #ENDSARS protest – especially in light of the security situation across the country.

Activists and groups have in the past few days been publicising an #ENDSARS protest to mark the first anniversary of last year’s protest which shook the country and gained visibility across the world.

The youth-organised protest was to express grievance against the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police for its alleged lawlessness and human rights violations. The squad was disbanded by President Muhammadu Buhari after pressure from protesters.

The protest however turned deadly on the night of 20 October 2020 as soldiers allegedly killed and injured several protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, the epicentre of the protest.

[Read also] #EndSARS: Activists list events for memorial protests

To mark the day of the deadly shooting now dubbed the ‘Lekki Massacre’, activists across the country are planning to embark on another #ENDSARS protest on 20 October 2021.

However, NEC in an advisory on Friday said: “While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advises those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.

“This is because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues. Council therefore urges the organisers to reconsider their plan.

“NEC would also like to point out the various actions already taken by federal and state governments to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests, including: the disbandment of SARS; broad police reforms; establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies; recommendations of panels which are already at various stages of implementation, including the setup of Victims Compensation Funds from which several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels; and prosecution of police personnel indicted by the panels.”

NEC said the above were “commendable actions that ought to be taken to a logical conclusion in a peaceful atmosphere.”

“Organisers of the planned protests should explore the various channels of communication with governments at various levels to advance their positions and avert the breakdown of law and order that may result from such public protests,” the council added.

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