President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the decision of the Federal Government to promptly accede to the five-point demands of the #endSARS protesters, most prominent was to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS was misinterpreted by many as a sign of weakness on the part of the government.

Meanwhile, the President has also counselled the international community to verify certain claims and assertions by some individuals and groups before jumping into hasty and uninformed conclusions.                                                                                                                                           President Buhari in a national broadcast monitored in Lagos Thursday, however said to the contrary, the decision was in line with the government’s determination to reform not only the Police Force but also to carry out a total overhaul of the country’s entire security architecture.

According to him, the inalienable right of any Nigerian to protest as enshrined in section 40 of the constitution stops where the rights of others to move about for their normal business activities within the confines of the law begin, warning that no one should interrupt the other.

The Presidential speech reads in part: “On Monday 12th October, I acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS. As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.                                                                                                                             “On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms. Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.                                                                                                                           “The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private property completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors. All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests.                                                                                                                                                                       “I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.                                                                                                                               “The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour. On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the wellbeing and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.                                                                                                                                    “Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society.  These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is: paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small – and medium – enterprises, paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission,  giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guaranteeing market for the products of traders. .                                                                                                                                           I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well – intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded SARS. The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.”