Organisers of the #EndSARS protests have been advised to reconsider their plan to stage any protest in commemoration of the one-year anniversary since the demonstrations were held in various parts of the country.
The National Economic Council (NEC) made the call on Friday in an advisory on public protests, saying such a plan should be shelved considering the nation’s security situation.
While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement,” the council headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said in the advisory.
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.
Thousands of young Nigerians occupied strategic places in parts of the country in October 2020, demanding the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) over alleged human rights violations.
While the protests held for several days, there was a shooting by a team of security operatives who stormed the venue of the demonstration in the Lekki area of Lagos.
In a bid to address the concerns raised by the protesting youths, NEC stated that the government – at the federal and state levels – has already taken actions to address the grievances that led to the protests.
It listed them to include the disbandment of SARS, broad police reforms, the establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, and prosecution of police personnel indicted by the panels.
The council explained that recommendations of the panels were already at various stages of implementation, including the setting up of Victims Compensation Funds from which “several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them” by the panels.
These are 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.