The National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has thrown his support behind youths protesting against brutality and extra-judicial killings by disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a formation of the Nigerian Police.
Tinubu stated that it would be impossible for anyone that was truly committed to the entrenchment of rule of law, democracy, and good governance to kick against the concern and demands of the protesters,
The APC leader, who revealed his support for the protesters in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday, appealed that the protesters should call off protest, just as he counselled that ignoring dialogue with Federal Government and not been moderate in their quest could affect their chances of actualising their goal of police reform,
He stated that the protest has achieved its aim and that it was time for the demonstrators to sheathe their sword and allow the government to implement the required reforms craved for by the protesters in Nigeria.
Tinubu argued that the protesters have made considerable gains within a very short period and that they should be careful not to fritter away such gains due to lack of moderation as well as strategic thinking.
He noted that the vigour and vibrancy of the protests further indicated growing strength of the country’s democratic culture and demonstration of the beauty of democracy and protection of people’s power.
“Let me commend all our religious leaders, Christians and Muslims for their patriotism and high sense of responsibility at this sensitive time. I appeal to them to call on their teeming followers to call of the protests for now and give peace a chance. Finally, I also strongly appeal to the protesters. Please please and please call off the protests , give government a chance to implement your demands ‘
“For instance, it is unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs and assorted criminals have seized on the protests to perpetrate violence, disrupt civil life, and harass, intimidate and assault innocent persons going about their lawful business. The intent of the organizers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted.
“It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalized anarchy or effect regime change. If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule.
“However, the protesters must be careful not to set the stage for the erosion or destruction of the same democratic process that gives them the freedom and right to protest in the first place. Their democratic right to protest must not be exercised in such a way that impedes the democratic right of other citizens to freedom of movement, expression and the liberty to pursue their livelihoods. The fight for police reforms is surely to promote and protect the wellbeing of millions of Nigerians. It is a contradiction for the protesters to act in ways that will further worsen the economic well being of the very people they are fighting for.
“In the final analysis, the cure for protracted and delicate national problems is to continue to strengthen the democratic process rather than engage in acts that can lead to generalized anarchy in which democracy cannot thrive. The protests have forcefully demonstrated the reality and potency of people’s power and the new energy must be tapped and channeled to strengthen, not weaken the country’s democracy. Surely, the country cannot remain the same after this.
“The government has demonstrated its sensitivity to the demands of the youth and must now be supported to implement the reforms it has committed itself to. It is a good sign that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos and a number of other state governments have speedily set up judicial panels of inquiry into acts of police brutality over the years. I urge the state governments which are yet to do so to emulate this example. This process of change should be supported and this cannot be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are also crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic”.