By Luminous Jannamike
Some Civil Society Organizations, which took part in the #EndSARS protest for comprehensive police reforms, on Monday, said they will not be intimidated by threats to prosecute them for allegedly leaving the mass action to degenerate into chaos and anarchy in the country.
The CSOs stated this in separate interviews with Vanguard in Abuja, while reacting to comments by the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malla Gabar Shehu, stating that the #EndSARS promoters must face the law for the wanton killings and destruction the nation experienced in the aftermath of the mass action.
The CSOs noted that they acted within the ambit of Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
They, however, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring the violence that trailed the demonstrations with a view to making scapegoats of the protesters.
You’re messing with the wrong generation – #RevolutionNow
The Legal Counsel to #RevolutionNow movement, Inibehe Effiong Esq., said: “The statement is reckless and provocative. Mallam Garba Shehu should circumcise his tongue. He is playing with the wrong generation. The conscientious youths of this country will not be intimidated by the repressive antics of the Buhari regime.
“Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, respectively. We will exercise these rights to the fullest within the ambits of the law.
“The violence that took place was introduced and induced by the government. They should carry their baggage with sobriety and stop scapegoating.
“It is now obvious to all that there was no sincerity on the part of this regime ab initio. They were just buying time to enable them re-launch their anti-democratic missiles.
“But history shows that no government can defeat a determined person. We are determined to take back our country from the forceful grip of these political parasites.”
Be prepared to face ICC – Centre for Liberty
In a similar vein, Centre for Liberty, one of the groups which coordinated the #EndSARS protest in the nation’s capital, advised the those in authority to rather prepare to face the International Criminal Court for shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki Tollgate.
Convener of the group, Adebayo Raphael, said: “As always, Garba Shehu is missing the point. It is not we who must face the law; it is the Nigerian Government who must face the law.
“We have committed no crime, but the government has committed several. The government ordered soldiers to kill innocent protesters; threatened the lives of protesters till some left the country.
The authorities also seized passports; froze bank accounts; arrested minors and several others in their homes and sent them to jail without the option of bail.
“These are criminal acts and the government must be prepared to face the law, both in Nigeria and at the ICC.
“We shall remain focused until they are all held to account and all our demands are met.”
What Nigerians need are soothing words, not threats – Global Peace Foundation
Meanwhile, What Nigeria needs now are voices that will unite the people and not threats from any quarter.
GPF’s Country Director, Mr. Joseph Hayab, said: “#EndSARS protesters had legitimate complaints which many Nigeria citizens had come out to support.
“The people simply wanted to see a change in the way and manner the Nigeria Police treated citizens whose tax money is used to pay their salaries and emoluments.
“President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had previously acknowledged in public that the cries of the #EndSARS protesters were legitimate. Even the federal authorities had started doing something to make Nigerian Police act better and in a civilized manner.
“So, any government official who comes out with an aggressive tune right now is not helping the Presidency and may not really love to see the progress of this country.
“These type of persons where mute when the protesters were on Nigerian streets. Our candid advice, therefore, is for all political office holders to help convince Nigerians that Mr President and his team mean well for the country.
“None of Presidential appointee should tow the path of arrogant language and threats to the people who mean well for our country and have voiced out their concerns through the #EndSARS protest.
“The #EndSARS demands highlighted the areas Government should correct so that this country will move forward.
“Above all, Nigeria and Nigerians need love, respect and unity now not the show of force from anyone.”