Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on Thursday promised that the National Assembly would push the Federal Government to implement the demands of End SARS protesters.
Lawan and Gbajabiamila spoke on a day protesters ignored the directive of Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Malam Muhammad Bello prohibiting protests and demonstrations in the nation’s capital went unheeded yesterday.
The protesters, the minister said, have caused inconveniences to law abiding citizens.
The protesters in their thousands marched to the National Assembly complex.
Vehicular movement and other activities around the Federal Secretariat area was grounded as the protesters blocked the entrance of the National Assembly, chanting songs of solidarity.
The protesters said it would take more than notice of ban or other form of threat from the government to make them drop their agitation.
Lawan spoke after Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi briefed the plenary on the outcome of their meeting with #EndSARS protesters who blocked the National Assembly’s gate.
Lawan had delegated the Leader and Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe to meet with the protesters.
Lawan said: “I believe the government has responded and SARS has been disbanded. In fact, they said all the five demands of the protesters have been accepted. If such demands have been accepted then we should expedite taking actions to actualize them. I believe that when protesters’ demands are met, their goals should have been achieved.
“I think that there’s need for our compatriots to go back home and give government the chance to quickly and expeditiously implement those demands.”
Gbajabiamila urged protesters to be patient and await the further decisions of the President.
“In addition to whatever other changes that may be caused by these protests, they have exposed the stinking underbelly of our nation’s policing system so that we now understand better why our federal police is often unable to effectively respond to the localised manifestations of insecurity across the different parts of our country,” he said.
Aside Abuja, there were also protests in Lagos, Ibadan and others. Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and his deputy Kayode Alabi yesterday joined scores of #EndSARS protesters in staging a walk to the state police command headquarters in Ilorin, the state capital.
The protesters had converged on the Government House before the governor and his deputy joined them.
He urged them to remain calm and peaceful while their grievances are promptly addressed.
In Bauchi State, hundreds of youths lent their voices to the protest against police brutality.
The protesters rejected the newly established Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) to replace the disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS). They marched around the state capital and the Government House.
In Ibadan, youths again hit major streets of the Oyo State capital to protest police brutality.
The youths staged the walk from their various locations and terminating at the Oyo State Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
Motorists, commuters and other road users had a difficult time moving around town with heavy vehicular and human congestion experienced in major parts of the capital city.
In Yola, the police muzzled the youths and prevented their peaceful match. The youths had scheduled their protest match on Wednesday for the state capital Yola, to start at the Police Roundabout, but the police did not allow it.
The police operatives stormed Item 7 Restaurant, an eatery near the Police Roundabout where the youths were gathered to begin their protest.
The armed police operatives rushed on the youths, throwing teargas, following which the protesting youths scampered off for safety, effectively ending the planned protest.
NCDC cautions on risk of COVID-19 transmission
Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday cautioned the ENDSARS protesters on the risk of COVID-19 transmission during their peaceful protests.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, during the Presidential Task Force on covid-19 briefing in Abuja, said: “You can see some of the demonstrations happening across the country. The virus doesn’t know whether you are young or old, policeman or a demonstrator, it uses the opportunity to jump from persons to persons.”
‘Reform police in line with international best practices’
Lagos socio-political activist and critic Chief Adesunbo Onitiri has added his voice to the ongoing youths’ protests against the continued police brutality, extortions and killing of their mates and other innocent Nigerians.
In a statement in Lagos, he called on the Federal Government to reform the police in line with international best practices.
He said the present police structure is outdated and should be modernized to reflect the present realities and conditions as against the one inherited from the colonialists.
He pointed out that the ongoing nationwide protests could be termed as a good omen to stop bad governance of the successive regimes in the country.
“These protests are long awaited and overdue. This is because these youths are graduates seeking employment for many years without success. They are now very bitter and angry.
“Successive governments in the past have been paying lip-services to the issue of youth unemployment and empowerment in the country, and the youths were watching our government officials, legislators and their families, living in opulence and squandering our common wealth.
“We have advised the present government to urgently address the issue of unemployment in this country. We know that an idle hand is a devil’s workshop.
“Now that our youths are ready to protect their destiny, we implore them to be peaceful and methodical in achieving their goals lawfully and without loss of life.”