Former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Monday appealed for calm from citizens protesting against police brutality in Nigeria. According to the stalwart of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, the protests are within the constitutional rights of Nigerians.
In his opinion, the impunity of SARS was a challenge that “the youth have responded positively and courageously to and has triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system”.
The protests started earlier this month in response to a video that circulated online showing a man being beaten, apparently by members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS.
In response to the widespread demonstrations, the Nigerian government announced the dissolution of the rogue police unit, but the daily protests have continued with participants demanding an end to all police brutality and corruption.
However, Tinubu in his statement insisted that the process for reforms has started and the Nigerian government should be given the opportunity to see it through.
“The impunity of SARS was a challenge that the youth have responded positively and courageously to and has triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system,” he said.
“The protesters must admit that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests.
“This shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths. It is only fair that government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. This can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand.
“If government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that that there is a positive change by government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency,” TInubu said.
Commending protesters for conducting themselves with “a sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity”, TInubu warned against losing the gains of the protests due to a “lack of moderation and strategic thinking”.
He noted instances where hoodlums, thugs and criminals have used the protests as an opportunity to instigate violence and disrupt civil life.
“The intent of the organizers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted. It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalized anarchy or effect regime change.
“If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule,” he said.