#EndSARS anniversary: Consider other lawful options, NEC advises protest organisers

#EndSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate, Lagos State. (File photo)

By Oluwafemi Popoola

The National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has appealed to the organizers of the planned public protest across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, enjoining them to embrace other lawful options of engagement.

The NEC, which comprises of all 36 state governors of the country, made the resolution after their meeting on Friday.

Organisers of the #EndSARS protest had planned to mobilise youthful Nigerians for nationwide protests on October 20, to commemorate the alleged shooting of protesters by security operatives at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, on the said date last year 2020.

But NEC, reacting to the planned protest reasoned that any public protest in may further exacerbate the already precarious security situation the country is battling with, coupled with the prospect of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues.

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However, in an attempt to dissuade the actors from embarking on another public protest, NEC pointed numerous actions that have been taken by Federal and State Governments to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests which include:

• 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.

According to NEC, “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.”

Recall that the 2020 #EndSARS protests had forced the Nigerian authorities to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad – SARS. And all States across the country consequently set up judicial panels of enquiry to investigate the defunct SARS unit of the Nigerian Police force.