…Demands judicial panel of inquiry on Lekki Toll Gate shootings
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- Concerned about the growing tension in the land occasioned by nationwide protests against police brutality, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on the nation’s security architecture.
This is even as the party tasked the federal government to constitute a judicial panel of inquiry to unravel the perpetrators of Tuesday’s shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, which reportedly left some persons dead.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters on Thursday, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said the right to peaceful protests is constitutionally guaranteed in the nation’s laws, adding that, though police authorities did well to disband the Special Anti- Robbery Squad, its replacement, the Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT, has not gone down well with the people, he noted.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the President has the honourable option in the face of the glaring incompetence in governance to declare a national emergency in the nation’s security architecture.
“We also request for the immediate setting up of an independent judicial panel to look into the handling of this peaceful protest especially as it relates to the role of security agencies,” Secondus stated.
He continued: “They (youths) have been carrying out this constitutional obligation peacefully across the country without any molestation and registering their grievances appropriately to relevant authorities.
“The Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu swiftly responded to the youth outcry by disbanding the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, replacing it with SWAT, an action that did not go down well with protesters who demanded instead the total and unconditional overhaul of the entire nation’s security architecture.
“This responsibility rests squarely with the federal government who controls and manages the police force. But rather than do something urgently as a committed and civilized government, the federal government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari chose instead to remain mum in the face of the people’s legitimate outcry for attention and justice.
“PDP finds the glaring snobbish silence of the President and the injection of violence into the peaceful protest as unacceptable as it paved the way for the deployment of the military to murder innocent harmless Nigeria youths.
“This was callously done on Tuesday night at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos where some group of armed uniformed soldiers of the Nigerian Army opened fire on protesting youths killing and maiming several of them.”
Secondus said the PDP “stands shoulder to shoulder with all the victims of this brutal attitude and condemns in strongest term, the mindless and inhuman shooting of citizens, an action that runs foul of every national and international laws.”
He called on the protesting youths to remain peaceful even as he called on government to learn from history, saying, “rather than emulate legitimate responses of civilized leaders to protests of this nature across the democratic nations globally, Nigeria government prefers the ignominious option of the 1989 Tiananmen Square in China that ended with military crackdown that became known in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“A government that should be concerned about national security has also dangerously gone ahead to encourage violence by deploying troops against protesting citizens.
“As the main opposition party who has carefully watched this development, PDP views the dimension the federal government is directing the protest as unfortunate and dangerous to national cohesion and peace.
“As the needless bloodletting rages, our President, the Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari has continued to keep mum behaving exactly like Nero who played fiddle while Rome burned,” he added.