#EndSARS: Group Warns Against Lawlessness, List 13 Point Recommendation
POLITICS DIGEST– A group, non-state actors consultative forum, has warned that lawlessness due to lack of caution arising from the ongoing #EndSARS protest may devastate Nigeria’s economy and worsen it’s fragile security.
The group in a Statement Saturday, signed by fifteen conveners, listed a thirteen point recommendation for tackling the uprising.
It noted that, “public protest is deeply rooted in Democracies all around over the world, and the right for peaceful protest have been covered by the Nigerian Constitution and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Nigeria is a state party. As such Nigerians have every right to protest against police brutality without been maltreated, threatened or shot at.”
The full statement reads:
Issues arising from the recent #ENDSARS protest that engulfed the nation in recent weeks particularly the happenings in Lagos State which is the commercial capital of Nigeria, Abuja federal capital and Edo State has left much to be desired.
The distrust and lack of caution on the part of the protestors have created a perfect environment for anarchists, hoodlums and miscreants to perpetrate all sorts of lawlessness and crime against peace loving Nigerians and the Nigerian state at large.
The impact of this lawlessness will be devastating on an already ailing economy and will also worsens the fragile security situation in the country as hoodlums have taste the power they can wield during such times.
The idea behind legitimate protest is to create a means for the people in the society to express their support or displeasure about events or happenings around them in order to get the attention of people responsible.
Public protest is deeply rooted in Democracies all around over the world, and the right for peaceful protest have been covered by the Nigerian Constitution and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Nigeria is a state party. As such Nigerians have every right to protest against police brutality without been maltreated, threatened or shot at.
The protest against police brutality started many years ago by some few human right activists on social media. However, most of these activists were not able to garner much public support, until recently when celebrities mostly musicians and Nollywood stars gave the protest a physical boost. Although these celebrities gave the protest a face and it motivated a lot of youth to physically join the protest, it however alienates the voice of human right activist who have better understanding of the situation and can give the protest the desired leadership and guidance, which the current faces in the protest (the celebrities) lack. Additionally, the insistence by most of the participating youth that the movement be leaderless citing fear and distrust that the Government can bribe its way out of the situation or use threats to quell the protest, is not enough reason to have a leaderless movement, as such movement most of the times ends in chaos, hence need government timely intervention before it’s too late.
Despite the protesters distrust they might have against public office holders, they should have given the Government of the day the benefit of doubt by suspending their protest after it responds to their plea with the immediate disbanding of SARS and accepting the 5of5 list of their demand. The outright rejection of the government effort by most of the protesters only help entrenched the claim from certain quarters of the society that there is political agenda behind the protest. Also the regional nature of the protest (been concentrated mainly in the south) in addition to the stubbornness of the protesters to accept government offer have cast a shadow on the genuineness of this protest. The call for complete disbanding of SARS which the Government have yielded to and the outright rejection of the newly formed unit SWAT has been in inconsiderate to other regions considering the role that SARS is playing in the fight against Banditry and kidnapping in the North West and North Central as well as Boko Haram in the North East.
First of all, as non-state actors, we believe that protest of such nature needs leadership or representatives on the part of the protestors because almost every successful struggle end up at the negotiation table. The lack of leadership contributes greatly to the inability of the protestors to restrategize or suspend the protest after hoodlums hijacked the protest and start committing crimes. However, for the sake of peace and in order to get out of the current situation, we will like to call on the protestors to come up with representatives that will directly engage with Government representatives in ensuring that their demands are met and implemented. The protestors should know that they have no right to infringe on the right of non-protesting citizens by taking unethical actions such as blocking roads and airports. It is such actions that gave hoodlums the umbrella to launch their crimes and cause the present mayhem. The alleged shooting of unarmed protestors at LEKKI toll gate in Lagos by the Nigerian Military is completely against the rules of engagement and we wish to unequivocally call for proper investigation into the matter. As such headlines have put this country and the Nigerian Military to international criticism and condemnation. We will like to call on the Nigerian Government to leave no stone unturned in fishing out those responsible for the LEKKI shootings if proven, and or those responsible for staging the attack. Similarly, action must be taken against hoodlums that carried out the killing and maiming of innocent Nigerians as well as stealing and destroying public and private properties. An example should be made by making those responsible to face the full wrath of the law.
Recent evidences coming out from the social media shows how peddlers of fake news using this opportunity to peddle fake news by sharing unrelated pictures and statements that are capable of causing ethnic strife among Nigerian ethnicities. If this is allowed to thrive, it can cause a major civil unrest. Actions by such peddlers strengthened the believe that some local and international players are using this opportunity to cause damage to Nigeria’s unity.
1. We call on the government to sensitise citizens against sharing of fake news, and the need for citizens to understand how great a disservice such actions are to our dear country. The Nigerian Government should put in measures to fight against the spread of fake news while respecting the freedom of speech of citizens;
2. The police welfare program should be unbundled to clearly illustrate the nature of reform the government is putting as this will go a long way in encouraging police officers to carry out their responsibilities with greater efficiency;
3. Set up a technical monitoring committee consisting of the civil society, media and other relevant stakeholders to monitor the implementation process of the intended police reform program;
4. Community policing should be strengthened while security agents tasked with special security responsibilities such as SWAT and state based units should be properly monitored to put their possible excesses under check;
5. Government should strengthen its fight against corruption by revamping the institutions responsible for checking and fighting corruption to ensure maximum transparency and judicious use of public resources to benefit the grieving youth;
6. Government should make all of its special intervention programs such as N-power, microloans for MSMEs and the like accessible to all citizens, and ensure that job recruitment exercises are open, transparent and not hijacked by politicians and associates of power;
7. The government should implement the United Nations prescriptions on education because without an accessible and affordable education young people become easy targets for recruitment and integration as merchants of violence and unrest. And make the education more inclusive, readily accessible and affordable for people living with disabilities (PWDs) and empower them economically;
8. Government should swiftly heed to northern youth’s call for an end to insecurity in the region by taking practical actions that should involve the immediate deployment of special security operatives in the region’s most hostile areas;
9. Government should immediately fish out those who infiltrated the #ENDSARS movement and created a dangerous security breakdown that led to loss of lives and destruction of properties in different parts of the country and punish them accordingly;
10. Deployment of technology in governance is absolutely fundamental in promoting governance transparency and accountability, and monitoring of crimes/excesses of police;
11. If government were to compensate those who incurred damages as a result of the protests, northern business people who have also lost their wealth to the protest in southern parts should equally and fairly be compensated as well
12. Government should expedite its negotiations with ASUU and ASUP in order to bring an end to their industrial actions as this will help take young people off the streets and thus wind down the spread of the protests across the country; and
13. Youth should be guided by the civil society to have a strategic agenda for development that can be presented and pursued even without resorting to protests
We hope Nigeria can come out of this stronger, and become a country we will all be proud of.
LONG LIVE NIGERIA!!! Signed:
1. Citizen for Development and Education (CDE)
2. Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN)
3. Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Kano state chapter
4. Nigerian Environmental Society (NES)
5. Northern Youth Assembly (NYA)
7. Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA)
8. Kano state Trade Union (KASTU)
9. Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kano state chapter
10. National Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), Kano state chapter
11. Centre for Research and Documentation (CRD)
12. Women In Media (WIM)
13. National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities (NAPWPD) Kano
14. Joint National Association of Persons with Disability 15. AMMKaS