The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, on Wednesday said the police to youths who called for the disbandment of State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on October 20, 2020 will continue to be a dark stain on the nation.
The organisation in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, and made available to THISDAY, said the high handed manner with which the police treated those who peacefully organized rallies to commemorate one year of the misadventure at Lekki Toll Gate, clearly showed that the government and the police have not demonstrated that the lessons inherent in October 20, 2020 mean anything to them.
“Not only that, the failure of the government to fulfill the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue has added to the list of how the government continue to alienate itself from the people”, he said.
Ajayi insisted that one year down the line with governments setting up panels of enquiry to find out what happened and recommend ways of compensating the victims and putting a stop to a reoccurrence, nothing tangible has come out of it.
According to him, “For some time to come, October 20 of every year will continue to be a reminder of the little value that the Nigeria nation places on the life and future of its youths going by how it treated youths who were protesting at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on October 20, 2020.”
He stated further that since January 1 when President Muhammadu Buhari made the promise of fulfilling the five demands of the youths, there is nothing on ground to show that the promises were kept or are in the process of being kept, stating that if anything, the promises appear to be kept in reverse.
“For, other than the nomenclature SARS that has been officially removed, the same persons who were members of the organization still don police uniforms. That is not the problem. The problem is that they are still exhibiting the attitude that ignited the call for the disbandment of their organization in the first place. That is the attitude of extortion, of harassment, of brutality and downright disregard for the fundamental human rights of the citizens. All these still continue unabated”, he said.
Afenifere spokesman maintained that the treatment meted out to some protesters in places like Lagos, Benin, Osogbo and other cities sent a message that the positive lessons inherent in the ENDSARS protest have not been learnt.
Ajayi then called on the government to let the affirmation contained in the President’s speech to manifest in government’s actions, insisting that the way to begin is to release those who were arrested in connection with the ENDSARS protest, fulfill the five demands to which the president committed the government, work hard on ending insecurity in the country, restructure the country into true federalism in which each region is able to determine its own affairs and allow the creative of the youths to flower.
Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan