President Mohammadu Buhari, has told former Nigerian Presidents and Heads of state that, the recent protests staged by Nigerian youths across different cities in the country against the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), was “hijacked and misdirected.”
President Buhari stated this on Friday, during a virtual meeting he had with the country’s former leaders in Abuja.
According to a statement released by Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Buhari said, his administration will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals to continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.
The former Nigerian Presidents and Heads of States who attended the meeting are Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Buhari according to the statement, recounted the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.
“He recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded, and further articulated the additional demands, including the immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct within 10 days as well as the psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in Police salary.”
Buhari explained further that his government accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS, and also started the process of addressing the other demands.
”Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the Government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent.”
He expressed concern that in the mayhem that ensued, many lives have been lost, a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized.
In their remarks, the former leaders according to the statement, commended President Buhari for the steps taken so far to restore calm and order in the country, praising him for coming out to address the nation on Thurday.
While extending their condolences to the bereaved families as a result of the protest,the former leaders also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists, and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.