After considerable silence, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, has finally spoken in the light of protests that have rocked Africa's most populated country leaving dozens of people dead.
The President has called on the youth to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. He said that their voices had been heard and that the government was responding to their demands.
He called on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoined the security agencies to protect the lives and properties of all law abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.
President Buhari acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and said that the choice to demonstrate peacefully was a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of the Nigerian constitution and other enactments. He noted however that 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.
President Buhari noted that as a democratic government, the state had listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. He said that having accepted them, the government immediately scrapped SARS, which he said was in line with their commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
The President said that he was deeply pained that innocent lives had been lost and that the tragedies were uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there was no way whatsoever to connect the destruction and vandalism to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of Nigeria, he added.
He noted that the spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that his government was oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens was a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.
President Buhari stated that “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.”
He reaffirmed the Federal Government's commitment to preserving the unity of the country and pledged that the government would continue to improve good governance and the democratic process and ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected.