Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, has urged the #EndSARS protesters to immediately halt their protests, saying the government has heard their demands for police reforms and is working on them.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made the appeal to the protesters while speaking at the 20th National Women Conference of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, held at Victoria Island on Wednesday.
Nigerians across the country have for the past eight days been protesting against the brutality and extortion allegedly committed by operatives of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad unit of the Nigeria Police Force, and called for the scrapping of the unit.
Following the sustained protests, Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police, had on Sunday announced the disbandment of the F-SARS unit and also promised to institute reforms of the entire police force.
But despite Governor Sanwo-Olu presenting their demands to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, the protesters, who are mainly youths, hit the streets on Wednesday to continue the protest following the announcement of IGP Adamu of the Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) unit, a new unit to replace the disbanded SARS.
But the Lagos State Governor insisted that the demands of the protesters have been duly registered at the Federal and state government levels, adding that a solution is already being worked upon.
He called on the protesters to halt the process and give the government time to activate the process of police reforms as promised by the president and the police force.
He said: “I want to humbly request and appeal to our youths that their voices have been heard; their grievances have been well taken; their cause is a just and important cause. We have listened to them and listened to them very well. Government more than ever before will do things differently and positively. We can all see the efforts we have started since yesterday and today going forward.
“I want to appeal once again that because of the global pandemic that we have witnessed over last six to seven months, the youths should let the effects of the protest go down. And they should know that their voice has been heard, let government play their roles and play it well.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu explained the protests should be halted as businesses and economic activities have been disrupted for days, noting that the economy is still trying to recover from its fragile state following the lockdown imposed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said: “Businesses have suffered; people are just coming back to businesses. It would be unfair for those businesses not to be able to get back on their feet again because we have a larger social-economic effect.
“I know and I appreciate the challenges that all of you are going through. I appreciate the unfortunate incident that has happened to some of our youths. But like I said, we have heard you and we heard you very well.
“Please let those changes that you asked for, let them begin to happen. We have made commitments in Lagos State and other states too have made commitments. Let us see the effects of those changes and commitments we have given.”
Also speaking at the event, Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, said, “Let me appeal to our youths protesting against police brutality to remain calm and allow their elected representatives to take up the challenge from where they left off.
“We are convinced as leaders and we are ready to join the voice of reason to make Nigeria a better place.”
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