The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has said the recent #EndSARS protest in Nigeria was aimed at removing President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
Mr Adamu made the claim, Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, during a meeting between the leaders of the South-south region and a delegation from Nigeria’s presidency, according to a press statement from the Rivers State Government House.
“Adamu alleged that intelligence has confirmed that the EndSARS protest was funded from within and outside the country,” said the statement issued by Governor Nyesom Wike’s media aide, Kelvin Ebiri.
“He further added that one of the primary objectives of the protest was to effect a regime change,” the statement said.
The police chief said fake news gave “impetus” to the protests which lasted for days.
Contrary to Mr Adamu’s claim, the young men and women who participated in the historic protest mainly demanded an end to police brutality in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s human rights record has greatly deteriorated since President Buhari was re-elected in 2015.
In a meeting, earlier in November, where the police chief, Mr Adamu was in attendance, governors from northern Nigeria had made a similar claim that the #EndSARS protesters wanted a “regime change”.
The northern governors, whose communique was read by their chairman, Simon Lalong, the governor of Plateau State, said “uncontrolled social media” helped in spreading fake news and had fueled the protest.
They called for the regulation of social media in Nigeria.
However, other regions in Nigeria, going by the previous remarks made by their leaders, appeared opposed to the notion that the protesters wanted to oust Mr Buhari from office.
Uche Achi-Okpaga, the spokesperson for Ohaneze Ndigbo, said the protest was “the icing on the cake” as far as the issue of restructuring of the Nigerian federation is concerned, according to a report published by Punch newspaper.
“The wave of restructuring will be tempestuous and all who stand on its way will be consumed. We just cannot thrive on a structure that has continued to move backwards,” Mr Achi-Okpaga said.
Punch newspaper reported how the Middle Belt Forum rejected the position of the northern governors on the protest.
Also, a leading group in the South-south, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, had also rejected the claim of the northern governors that the protest was aimed at removing the nation’s president, same with the Afenifere in the South-west.
“#EndSARS was a revolt and not for regime change. It is only those fixated only on their ruling of Nigeria at all costs without a thought for its health that would only be talking of a regime in the midst of all we are going through,” the spokesperson for the Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said, according to the Punch report.
Meanwhile, Mr Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, said the meeting with the South-south leaders was called at the instance of the president for the purpose of discussing the #EndSARS protest.
The leaders of the region demanded, among other things, the restructuring of the federation to pave the way for true federalism which they said would bring peace, security, and stability to the nation.
“We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, imagination, hard work, sacrifice and leadership, every state of the Federation as of today, has the ability and capability to contribute to the national purse,” Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who is the chairman of the South-South Governors forum, is quoted to have said at the meeting
Among those present at the meeting were: Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others were Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum; Goddy Agba, Minister of State, Power; Festus Keyamo, Minister of State, for Labour and Employment; Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health; Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi was, however, absent at the meeting.