Yahaya Bello, Kogi governor, says the country is not ripe for another round of demonstrations against police brutality.
Bello said this in reaction to reports that protesters are returning to the streets in some cities to demonstrate against police brutality.
In October, many citizens took to the streets across Nigeria to express their frustration against police harassment. However, hoodlums hijacked the demonstrations to unleash violence on citizens. Public and private property was looted and destroyed in the process.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Bello said another round of demonstrations will not be only premature but also counterproductive. The governor said the youth should consolidate on the gains of the protest by fully participating in various judicial panels of inquiry set up by the various state governments.
“In the face of all this and as the first sitting governor who publicly upheld the rights of our youths to protest against police brutality, I cannot in all good conscience agree that the time is ripe for another round of End SARS protests,” he said.
“I deem another round of End SARS protests to be premature and counter-productive at this time. Apart from the higher likelihood of conflict with the police earlier canvassed, we must also admit that the security situation in the country is very precarious at the moment.
“All patriots must therefore make conscious efforts not to degrade a parlous security situation further. Nationwide protests at this time will only overburden the load-bearing capabilities of our security architecture increasing the likelihood of total collapse. No matter the narrative, I doubt that out-of-control anarchy is an objective of the #EndSARS protests.”
Bello said the youth should note that the country’s economy is bleeding owing to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To worsen matters, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicted 3 days ago that the pandemic could push the number of people living in extreme poverty to over 1 billion by 2030. Thank God they are owning up to my earlier prediction, warning and caution,” he said.
“Nigeria’s earning and foreign exchange situation is too fragile as we speak to resist sustained shocks. Another nationwide protest will worsen the multidimensional poverty indices all over our country and work greater hardship on the ordinary Nigerians we claim to be advocating for.”
The governor added that anger at “social imbalances or poor governance manifested only through protests, whether peaceful or violent, will only achieve piecemeal objectives”.