A Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Muhammad, yesterday took a swipe on President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the lingering security situation in the country, insisting that the President’s penchant to pretence that all was well and there are no problems in the country aggravated the backlash of the #EndSARS protests across the country.
Junaid, who said even though the problem did not start with President Buhari’s administration, the Buhari’s administration’s failure to act as and when due was what led the country to where it is today.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday Telegraph, Junaid said he only hopes the government would be serious about the reforms it has promised, as it is only when Nigerians begin to see the changes that they can take the promise serious.
He said: “The #ENDSARS protest did not begin today, there might have been some mild agitation about the high handedness, cruelty and lawlessness which sometimes gravitate to even extra judicial killings of this particular unit in the police force. “It was not President Buhari who created this SARS. But those who head the police under different units, managed them in accordance with the police act, which has now been reversed a few times.
All I see is that SARS is not the problem, it is the management of the SARS by those heading the units that is the problem. “Like it is not only in the SARS but even the regular command, many of those outside are supposed to bring returns to those in charge and this is common knowledge.
“Like I said this government did not bring about SARS, but what President Buhari did, which is typical of him, is to pretend that these problems did not exist, unfortunately for him and his party and his government because of their lousy decision making, we are where we are today.
“I sincerely hope that the reforms they are talking about is going to be real. People will see the difference in their attitude and comportment and the general way they behave towards the Nigerian people.”
On the broadcast by the president following the protest, Junaid said he refused to listen to the presidential broadcast because he could guess what the president would say. He also disclosed that President Buhari on his own would not have addressed the nation but was forced to do so, adding that those who want him to address them are the same people that will abuse him because he would not say what they want.
He said: “I did not listen to it, because this has happened a few times before, I have always believed that a leader should be allowed to use his own instinct, his common sense to arrive at a decision whether to address the nation or not.
“But anytime there is a small or big crisis in the country, people will now go to the Senate and say, Buhari should come and address the people, come and address the nation, what if the issue cannot be addressed or cannot be properly distilled by Buhari and clearly Buhari is not the best of speakers. He is so unpersuasive.” He said that “The idea that anytime there is a problem, the president should come and address the nation is a deceptive way of ridiculing the leader, because the few times he was misadvised to come and address Nigerians on some other issues, it is the same people that asked him to come and address them that will also come and abuse him.
“If you want to abuse someone go ahead and abuse him don’t ask him to come and address you. Already you have a template, when he finishes you start saying he did not say this he did not say that. “If you know what he wanted to say, may not be to your own satisfaction, why ask him to address you. I did not listen to the address because I can guess what he would say and what will be the reaction from those who are forcing him to speak”.
Protests hijacked, misdirected, Buhari tells ex-Heads of State
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday told the nation’s former Heads of State that the peaceful protest by the nation’s youth for the scrap of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and an end to police brutality across the country were hijacked and misdirected. It would be recalled that the hitherto peaceful protests were overtaken by miscreants and fifth columnists leading to killings, maiming and destruction of government and individual properties across the country.
Soldiers were reported to have opened fire on armless protesters camped in Lekki on Tuesday leading to the death of some protesters while there were reports of jailbreak in Benin City, Edo State, among other accounts of arson perpetrated by hoodlums across the country.
Buhari, in a statement made available to journalists by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a virtual meeting with the former leaders, said the development was unfortunate.
The President reiterated that his government would not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the 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. He recounted the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.
The President recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded, and further articulated the additional demands, including: The statement reads: “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.
“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.” Each of the former leaders commended Buhari for steps taken so far to restore calm and order to the country and also applauded the presidential broadcast of Thursday as detailed and soothing to the country.
On his part, Obasanjo said: “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.”
The former heads of state were unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy including through direct foreign investments were critical to checking youth restiveness.
They also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of civilians, policemen and soldiers killed as a result of the violent protest, and reaffirmed the commitment to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, including for peaceful protest as enshrined in the Constitution. The former Heads of State also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists, and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.
President’s speech lacks empathy –Ozekhome, Falana
Two Senior Advocate Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome and Mr. Femi Falana, yesterday expressed disappointment over the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari over the #EndSARS protest, which led to the attack on protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on Tuesday night. The two legal luminaries in separate reactions noted that the speech lacked substance and empathy, especially, for not touching on the Lekki killings.
In his own submissions, Mr. Monday Ubani, said it was mind-boggling that the president made no mention of the killings carried out by soldiers at Lekki Toll-Gate. Commenting, Ozekhome described the speech as the reading of a military riot act, saying it was devoid of sympathy, empathy, fatherly feelings or even the mere milk of human kindness for a nation on the dangerous precipice and cliff.
He said: “I just had, most humbly, the misfortune, of reading the 27-paragraph national broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari. “I told them not to expect any calming or balming speech of reconciliation and empathy. Buhari did not disappoint me.
His national address was devoid of sympathy, empathy, fatherly feelings, or even the mere milk of human kindness for a nation on the dangerous precipice and cliff. “His speech was unfortunately insensate and insensitive. It epitomised a sorry and pathetic disconnect between the government and the people Mr president governs , or pretends to govern.”
In his reaction, Falana said the speech contained avoidable gaps like where President Buhari accused the international community of jumping into hasty conclusions over the shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Tollgate on Tuesday. Falana said: “The presidential speech contained some avoidable lacunae. For instance, the President accused the international community of jumping into hasty conclusions with respect to the Lekki shootings.
“My worry is that the President would be embarrassed at the end of legal inquiry into the military invasion of the Lekki toll gate as the number of the unarmed protesters that were mowed down and the circumstances of the barbaric attack by the soldiers from a particular military barrack on Victoria Island would be exposed.”
Reacting, Ubani said: “One would have expected a pronouncement from the president on the killing of protesters at Lekki, but unfortunately it was completely left out.”
Buhari must not allow protest to become more violent –Ohanaeze
Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action in ensuring that the #EndSARS protests across the country doesn’t degenerate into violent acts.
The group, which spoke against the backdrop of the President’s initial silence, which it described as abnormal, also called for a thorough investigation into the killing of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos. In view of this, the group lamented that the worsening security situation and violent destruction of public and private properties across the country was worrisome, hence the need for an urgent response to the demands of the protesters.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday Telegraph in Enugu, Chief Emeka Attamah, the Special Adviser to President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, urged the authorities not to allow the situation to degenerate, urging youths to embrace peace and give the government the opportunity to address their complaints.
He said: “I wouldn’t speak for the President of Nigeria, but all I can say for now is that I think it’s a bit abnormal for the president not to have made a statement since the shooting, and if you ask me, the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo is that we shouldn’t allow the thing to descend to a level of extreme violence.
The violence we have already is enough.”
Buhari hard-hearted in his speech –Afenifere
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, berated President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping mute over the Lekki toll gate killings and failing to visit the scene or commiserate with those who lost dear one.
Speaking with Saturday Telegraph on the organisation’s reaction to the President’s speech on Thursday, spokesperson of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin said Buhari didn’t show any sign of a democratic president but military dictator. Afenifere said: “The speech was full of sound and fury. For the president to be issuing warnings and threats at this period is the height of wickedness.
“For him (Buhari) not to say a word on Lekki massacre is the height of hard – heartedness.”
RRS dislodges touts, dismantles barricades
Barely four days after bloody attacks on the men of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) across Lagos metropolis, officers of the police unit yesterday dislodged touts and dismantled roadblocks across the state. Saturday Telegraph gathered that the RRS unit of the Lagos Police Command returned to the streets following the relax of the three-day curfew imposed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Prior the return of the RSS, thugs had taken over Lagos roads and mounted roadblocks and other barricades, extorting residents and vandalising vehicles of motorists who refused to give them money while driving on Lagos roads.
They had also vandalised and looted shops across the state while commuters were also robbed. It could be recalled that over 95 men of the RRS were attacked by hoodlums at Yaba area of the state during the EndSARS protests while a score of the police were maimed and killed by the suspected thugs who hijacked the protests by the youths against police brutality.
Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, an officer in the RRS unit, who pleaded anonymity, said that despite the repeated attacks on their men, the police remained vigilant at their duty posts but only appeared on mufti. He added that the 95 men who were attacked at Yaba in two trucks and a hilux patrol were going to relieve their colleagues when the hoodlums attacked them.