Breeze Reporters

#EndSars Protest: Buhari Opens Up On Number Of Deaths

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said 69 people have been killed in the End SARS protests against police brutality that have rocked the country.

The deaths were mainly civilians but include police officers and soldiers.

BBC reports that the president announced the toll in an emergency meeting with former Nigerian leaders aimed at finding ways to end the unrest

The Feminist Coalition, a group that has been key in organising the demonstrations has now urged people to stay at home.

It also advised people to follow any curfews in place in their states.

The protests have drastically subsided but an uneasy calm remains in several cities.

A statement released by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity quoted Mr. Buhari as saying ”It is unfortunate that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected.
In a virtual meeting with the former leaders, President Buhari reiterated that the Government will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.
At the meeting were all living past leaders, including: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President recounted the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.
He recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded, and further articulated the additional demands, including:
”The immediate release of all arrested protesters.
”Justice for deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.
”Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct within 10 days.
”Psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in Police salary.”
The President declared: ”We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.
”Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the Government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent.”
President Buhari expressed concern that in the mayhem that ensued, many lives have been lost, a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized.
Reiterating his pledge to Nigerians from the nationwide broadcast Thursday, the President reaffirmed:
”We will continue to improve good governance through our democratic process including through sustained engagement.
”We shall also continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. Here, I want to also reaffirm our commitment to preserving the unity of this country.”
The President thanked the former Heads of State for attending the meeting and their invaluable comments, observations and advice, adding that ”Nigerians expect nothing less from responsible statesmen.”

Breeze Reporters

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