National Economic Council warns against #EndSARS protests

The council has asked protesters to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo presides over first physical National Economic Council meeting since COVID-19 lockdown. [Presidency]

The federal government's National Economic Council (NEC) has warned young Nigerians who intend to take to the streets to mark the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests against police brutality, to desist from doing so.

NEC is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

A statement from NEC reads as follows: "While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.

This is because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues. Council therefore urges the organisers to reconsider their plan.

NEC would also like to point out the various actions already taken by Federal and State Governments to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests, including:

* the disbandment of SARS;

*broad police reforms;

*establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies;

* recommendations of panels which are already at various stages of implementation, including the setup of Victims Compensation Funds from which several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels;

*and prosecution of police personnel indicted by the panels.

These are commendable actions that ought to be taken to a logical conclusion in a peaceful atmosphere.

Organisers of the planned protests should explore the various channels of communication with governments at various levels to advance their positions and avert the breakdown of law and order that may result from such public protests."

The police has also warned that it wouldn't tolerate street protests in the month of October.

On October 20, 2020, armed soldiers stormed one of the venues of the protest in Lekki, Lagos, and fired live rounds into a crowd of young, peaceful protesters.

Afterwards, arsonists and hoodlums seized on the breakdown of law and order that ensued, to loot and burn down government facilities and buses.

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