Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the international community “to know all facts” following widespread condemnation over the alleged deaths of anti-police brutality protesters in the address which lasted for 11 minutes was televised in a national broadcast on Thursday.
Buhari, who failed to address a shooting of protesters that took place Tuesday, also called on protesters to stop demonstrating and engage with the government.
Mr Buhari also announced he had disbanded the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS. Earlier, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, told reporters the president had directed all security agencies to operate within “the confines of legality” and “not to do anything that will aggravate the situation”.
“Mr President is very concerned about this development and does not want a situation in which everything breaks down and results in anarchy, in lawlessness and people taking the law into their own hands,” Mr Monguno added.
The president also urged the End SARS protesters to put an end to their demonstrations. Buhari made the appeal while stressing that his administration has heard their complaints.
You can read his statement below:
Fellow Nigerians, It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.
2. I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well-intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
3. On Monday 12th October, I acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.
4. The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but 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.
5. As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
6. On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
7. Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
8. The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.
9. All these executed in the name of the END SARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.
10. The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.
11. On the contrary, 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.