…Seeks urgent inquiry into incident, police reform

By Michael Eboh

The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, yesterday, condemned the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, describing the use of brute force against individuals exercising their rights to dissent as unacceptable.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, President/Chairman of Council of the NIPR, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, also conveyed the sympathy of the NIPR to victims of the shooting, as well as everyone who suffered one loss or the other to the crisis.

Sirajo called for the immediate setting up of an inquiry to determine the perpetrators of the act, stating that only then, would the reported denial by the Nigerian Army, of the involvement of its officers in the dastardly act, make more meaning.

He called for far-reaching reforms in the country’s policing architecture that included review of recruitment process, improvement in welfare and general reorientation from top to bottom, among others, stating that these would also go a long way in regenerating citizens’ confidence in the Police.”

The NIPR president further condemned the resort to hooliganism, arson and looting of both public and private properties that followed after the shooting, which, according to him, had nothing to do with the original objectives of the #EndSARS movement, which is believed to be simply a cry against impunity and a pitch for good governance.

He said: “The Institute wishes to make it clear that it respects citizens’ rights to peaceful dissent as well as 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 same.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: PDP lawmakers urge Buhari to address the nation

“The decision by the government to dissolve the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, though a step in the right direction, we believe in itself is not a solution to the problem.”

Sirajo explained that 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 to the youths asking questions of the leadership.

According to him, it is, therefore, imperative that governments at all levels brace up for more accountability by engaging citizens in a sincere dialogue about the way forward.

He said: “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.

“The NIPR, having been convinced of the altruism of the original concept of the #EndSARS movement and also having been impressed by government’s prompt acceptance of its demands as evidenced by the immediate dissolution of the SARS, wishes to appeal 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.

“We in the same vein call on the government to be faithful to the decision to address all issues raised. In this wise, we note the concerns expressed by the movement to inability of government being faithful and accountable to its actions, noting that SARS had been dissolved by the government in the past only to resurface again.

“We also reiterate our call for the immediate institution of an inquiry into the Lagos shootings to ensure that victims get justice.”

Vanguard

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