The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his Osun State counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola, have expressed worry on economic effect of continued protests against Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) brutality and extra-judicial killings by the police formation, saying the development has taken toll on businesses and enterprises across the country.
They explained that the protest had grounded businesses that were yet to regain momentum and return to full operation after disruption occasioned by coronavirus pandemic outbreak in which Lagos was its epicenter in Nigeria.
They argued that though the protesters were on track for exercising their rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution, there was need for the youths to take stock of their action and let governments at all level rise to the ocassion and address the systemic corruption in the force.
Speaking at the 20th National Women’s Conference organized by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) held at Eko Hotel and Suites on Wednesday, Sanwo-Olu noted that the government has acceded to the youths’ demand and that it was working fervently to get things done the right way.
He stressed that with continued protests, it would be increasingly hard for businesses to get back and function optimally, adding that the protesters needed to suspend the march and allow businesses to thrive.
According to him, work has started on the demands by the youths and going forward, the government would address the issues raised toward reforming the Nigeria police force.
“I want to humbly request and appeal to our youths that their voices have been heard; their grievances have been well taken; their cause is a just and important cause. We have listened to them and listened to them very well. Government more than ever before will do things differently and positively. We can all see the efforts we have started since yesterday and today going forward.
“I want to appeal once again that because of the global pandemic that we have witnessed over last six to seven months, the youths should let the effects of the protest go down. And they should know that their voice has been heard, let government play their roles and play it well. Businesses have suffered; people are just coming back to businesses. It would be unfair for those businesses not to be able to get back on their feet again because we have a larger social-economic effect.
“I know and I appreciate the challenges that all of you have gone through and also regret the unfortunate incident that has happened to some of our youths. But, as I said, we have heard you very well, please, let those changes that you asked for begin to happen. We have made commitments in Lagos State and other states have done the same, let us see the effect of those changes and commitments,” he said.
On his part, Oyetola said that the leaders are ready to join the voice of reason and make Nigeria a better place, adding that it was pertinent for the youths to allow government plays their roles in meeting the five-point demands.
“Let me appeal to our youths protesting against police brutality to remain calm and allow their elected representatives to take up the challenge from where they left off. We are convinced as leaders and we are ready to join the voice of reason to make Nigeria a better place,” the governor said.
Also speaking, the First Lady of Lagos State, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who is the Chairman of COWLSO, assured the youths that their demands with regards to police reforms would be implemented by the government.
“As mothers, we observe things before we speak but we are aware of the situation in the country. We thank God for Lagos State and the cabinet for listening to the plight of the youth.
“As members of COWLSO, we support ending police brutality. I know Mr. President is aware of the demands of the youths with regards to police reforms which they have said would be implemented. I believe we shall overcome,” she said.