Femi Adesina says former President Olusegun Obasanjo commended the speech given by President Muhammadu Buhari in reaction to the violence that ensued following the shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, said Obasanjo told Buhari at a virtual meeting of heads of states on Friday that he made points that are commendable.
Adesina revealed this in his statement titled ‘How EndSARS Protest Was Hijacked; Misdirected, President Buhari Tells Former Heads Of State’.
Many had believed that the Buhari’s speech came late and rather lacked empathy, however, the president’s spokesman quoted Obasanjo as saying, ”I commend the speech of last night. The nation had been waiting. You made points that I believe need to be commended. Peaceful demonstration is part of democratic practice. The demands of the genuine protesters were accepted, and you are working on implementation. We commend you.”
Adenisa went on to state that President Buhari told the former leaders of the country at the virtual meeting that his government has accepted all the demands of the protesters and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.
The spokesman said President Buhari told the former heads of state that he would not fold his arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.
Buhari also stated that it is unfortunate that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected.
The President 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.
”Psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in Police salary.”
The President said: ”We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and 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.”
According to Adesina, President Buhari expressed concern that in the mayhem that ensued, many lives have been lost, a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized.
The presidential spokesman said his principal reiterated his pledge to Nigerians from the nationwide broadcast Thursday, affirming that his government:
”will continue to improve good governance through our democratic process including through sustained engagement.
”shall also continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. Here, I want to also reaffirm our commitment to preserving the unity of this country.”
At the meeting were all living past leaders, including: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.