Nigerian foreign minister tests positive for COVID-19
Geoffrey Onyeama

The Federal Government has told members of the Diplomatic Community in Nigeria that it is committed to meeting the demands of Nigerians protesting police brutality and will not allow those with ulterior motive hijack the movement.

Recall  that the Diplomatic Corps were briefed on Tuesday in Abuja by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika.

The Minsters said the meeting was aimed at informing the International Community of the Federal government’s response to the initial demands of the protesters which was immediately acted upon.

According to Onyeama, President Muhammadu Buhari listened to the concerns of Nigerians from the onset of the protest by immediately disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and directed the immediate reform of the police.

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Onyeama said as a government that respects its constitutions which allows for freedom of speech and lawful assembly, it allowed Nigerians to embark on the #EndSARS protests to air their demands.

He said that unfortunately, the movement which was a peaceful protest has been hijacked by those with hidden agendas that want to disrupt the democratic process of the country, warning that the government will not condone anarchy.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, however, urged protesting Nigerians to stick to the main demands of police reforms as the government is committed to addressing all other issues they have highlighted in the course of time.

“Mr President listened and took very seriously the demands of the movement and directed response by the government.

“On 11th October, 2020, the Inspector General of Police dissolved SARS across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“On Oct 12, President Buhari addressed the nation, stating that the disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms.

“In order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people.

 “On 13th Oct. 2020, the presidential panel on the reform of SARS accepted the five-point demand of the #EndSARS protesters.

“On 15th Oct 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings,” Onyeama said.

Also speaking, Mohammed said that some people who were not part of the original movement, were using the movement to ask for unreasonable demands, and have moved from #EndSARS to #EndBuhari.

The Information Minister said that what bothered the government was that after the five demands had been comprehensively met, the protest, rather than abate, has been getting stronger.

He further told the envoys that the protesters started with five demands, but came forward with more demands, even as he said that with every demand of government that is made, the goal post is shifted.

“And the government noticed very soon that some people with ulterior motives were exploiting a very innocent and just protest to destabilise the polity.

“The movement started very peacefully, but very soon, we witnessed looting, assassination attempt on the Governor of Osun State, and burning and looting of malls.

“In Benin, they freed 2,000 inmates, in Lagos they set ablaze police stations and both the Governments of Edo and Lagos, have been compelled to impose curfews.”

Mohammed assured the international community that the government will continue to obey the rule of law, while also saying that democracy will continue to thrive in the country.

Sirika added that President Buhari has shown ability and willingness to respect the constitution of Nigeria and to allow for these freedoms.

He said that “#EndSARS and similar agitations, not only in Nigeria, all over the world, are things that do happen.

“But what is important is the role and response of government. This government has shown that it is a responsible and responsive government.

“Responsible because it listened to these demands, responsive because it has answered all of the demands,” Sirika said.

Mr Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, said that the UN appreciates the efforts of the Nigerian government in handling the situation.

Kallon, who was represented by Mr Oliver Stope, Country Representative of the UN office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), pledged the UN’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable democracy in Nigeria.


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