Says Lawlessness not Original Objectives of the #EndSARS Movement
The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has condemned unequivocally, the reported shooting of protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Wednesday.
This is as it stated, that the resort to use of arms against unarmed protesters who were doing nothing other than exercising their guaranteed rights to dissent was against all known tenets of decency, civilization and democracy and therefore unacceptable, adding that the reported denial by the Nigerian Army, of the complicity of its officers in the dastardly act, will make more meaning if an immediate inquiry is launched to ascertain who the perpetrators were.
The NIPR President/ Chairman of Council, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, who made this known at a press conference, equally condemned in no uncertain terms the resort to the hooliganism that ensued afterwards which led to arson, and looting of both public and private properties.
According to him, “It is our firm belief, that the lawlessness has nothing to do with the original objectives of the #EndSARS movement, which we believe to be simply a cry against impunity and a pitch for good governance.
“The Institute wishes to make it clear that it respects citizens’ rights to peaceful dissent as well as the government’s responsibility to the maintenance of law and order. It therefore identifies with the #EndSARS’ objective, which beyond the hashtag, is a condemnation of impunity, ruthless conducts, and the general lack of respect to due processes by some sections of the nation’s law enforcement architecture, as well as a call for the reform of the same”.
Sirajo, who noted that although the decision by the government to dissolve the SARS is a step in the right direction, noted that, that in itself, is not a solution to the problem.
In his words, “Far reaching reforms in the nation’s policing architecture that includes review of recruitment process, improvement in welfare and general reorientation from top to bottom, among others, would also go a long way in regenerating citizens’ confidence in the Police.
“Beyond the Police and SARS, the demonstrations should serve as a wake-up call to leaders at all levels to the fact that paradigm is shifting from complacency towards citizens, especially the youths asking questions of the leadership. It is imperative therefore, that governments at all levels brace up for more accountability by engaging citizens in a sincere dialogue about the way forward.
“Establishing, or improving this line of communication with Nigerians, will help the government(s) in the discharge of its commitment to timely action on programmes that seek to make life better for the people.
“Much as we believe that there is nothing wrong with citizens coming together to demand for a better deal from their government(s), genuine protests and protesters must guard against being infiltrated by others with entirely different motives which causes not only a loss of focus but also a resort to lawlessness as we have witnessed these past two days”, he stated.
The NIPR appealed to the protesters to call off the protests, having made their point, especially in view of the fact that the protests have been infiltrated and in some cases hijacked by other elements, with less than altruistic motives, so that the essence of the movement is not lost.
They also called on the government to be faithful to the decision to address all issues raised, and also reiterated their call for the immediate institution of an inquiry into the Lagos shootings to ensure that victims get justice.