President Muhammadu Buhari, has stated that he is avoiding to get into any debates on the ordered shooting of peaceful EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate, in Lagos, last Tuesday, until all the facts are established,
President Buhari disclosed this on Sunday, in a communique by his Senior Media Aide, Garba Shehu, amid the criticisms that followed after he failed to address the very tragic Lekki event in his nationwide broadcast.
The President appealed to the people all over the country to maintain peace and brotherhood, as the machinery of the government and the wheel of justice turn against the perpetrators of murder, arson, stealing, rape, assault, and malicious damage to public and private property.
He also asked parents and guardians not to encourage their children and wards to partake in the ongoing nationwide looting, destruction of property.
His words: “Families must turn back children who bring home unaccounted goods, in the same way, wives must ask their husbands to return looted items brought home.”
President Buhari’s statement is coming just as the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government and other States, start sitting on Monday, to look into the pillage that ensued, following a rather abrupt halt to the #EndSARS protests across the country.
He expressed his full support and optimism that it will assist the nation to give justice to peaceful protesters who lost their lives, security men who were murdered, and property owners whose assets were vandalised and looted.
The President advised that peace, brotherhood, and inter-communal harmony, are central to our ethos, and urged Nigerians “not to turn against one another in hate”.
He said that it is important that the Police and other Security Agencies move everywhere to restore calm and normalcy as quickly as possible.
President Buhari stated that his administration is working hard through many pragmatic ways to reduce the hardship of the millions of unemployed, poor citizens, and those whose lives have been thrown into disarray by the harsh economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He warned that resort to widespread attacks and the organised looting and plundering of public and private property in many States, are inimical to the public good, and stand condemned.
He said: “A government that has launched a massive crackdown on corruption, brought in strong laws for a decisive battle against corruption, pursues loot recovery at home and abroad, and taken strong decisions against those who thought they were above the law, will not fold its arms when an otherwise legitimate and peaceful protest is turning into free-for-all vandalism and looting.
“While the administration has, for its part, blocked so many means of looting public money in a war against corruption, it is the expectation that all civil authorities, community, and religious leaders in the country must rise against the organized looting and plunder we are witnessing in parts of the country.
“What is more, is that criminal actions as we have so far witnessed can weaken and erode the confidence of our people and that of foreign businesses in investing in the economy. Looting and vandalism will hurt trade and investment growth in our country, both large and small industries, as well as our hardworking people in the informal sectors of the economy.
“These incidents do not reflect well on any society. They are wrong and condemnable and should not be supported by reasonable members of society.”
In line with this, President Buhari commended the decision of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to prosecute 229 suspects arrested by the Police, for allegedly using the EndSARS protest to destroy and loot public and private property.
The President said he and his administration have taken note of the grievances of the people.
“We have heard you loud and clear”, he said.
He added that his administration has shown a clear determination to take all necessary measures to address the complaints.
He however stressed that “the violence must stop”.
President Buhari also condemned hate messages and eviction notices to ethnic and religious groups, asking Nigerians to take pride in the fact that our diverse people have been living with one another in harmony for ages.
He said the right of all citizens to live and work in any part of the country, is a constitutional right, and will be defended by the government.
More news later…