The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) on Monday, strongly condemned the attack at a prison facility in Benin, Edo State, leading to the escape of inmates, by hoodlums under the guise of #EndSARS protests.
The Buhari Media Organization described the prison break as an unjustifiable act of violence that directly threatens national security by exposing law-abiding citizens of Edo and neighbouring states to a possible reprisal attack by criminal elements previously isolated from society by law enforcement agents.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said there is no justification for such a thoughtless action even as the Buhari Administration has acceded to and exceeded all demands put forward by the #EndSARS protesters.
“The BMO strongly condemns the rapid degeneration of what began as a reasoned protest against police brutality and extra-judicial indulgences. While the Buhari Administration, living up to its reputation as a listening and responsive Government, disbanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad accused of rights abuses, the protesters have failed to reciprocate Government’s maturity by vacating the streets but have carried on with an air of impunity as if there is no subsisting legitimate Government.
“Nigerians are watching in horror as the once-popular protest for police reforms morphs into an anarchical orgy of violence with marauding gangs roaming the streets, unleashing terror and fear, and endangering the lives of innocent citizens,” the group noted.
BMO drew the protesters’ attention to what President Buhari is doing to address their grievances, in the short, medium, and long terms. SARS has been scrapped. The Administration announced the unconditional release of all detained protesters and investigations into human rights violations by former SARS officers.
Broadening the reform, the National Economic Council (NEC) on October 15th, 2020, directed all Governors to establish and chair a Special Security and Human Rights Committee that will supervise the newly formed SWAT. Special judicial panels at the state level have been approved to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings, evaluate evidence from victims or their relatives, and recommend compensation.
“These State Committees which have two representatives of Civil Society groups, one retired Police officer of high repute, and representatives of Youths, Students, the State Attorney-General and National Human Rights Commission have six months to conclude this assignment.
“So far Kaduna, Enugu, Anambra, Lagos, Delta, Plateau, Kaduna and Ekiti states have constituted their panels. Others are in the process of setting up their own. This translates to seriousness on the part of the Buhari Administration in reforming the Police”.
The group pleaded with the #EndSARS protesters to return home because their grievances are being looked into by the Government.
“Protesters should appreciate that reform is an administrative and legal process which cannot be done overnight. The Buhari administration which has shown serious commitment to Police Reforms before the outbreak of the protests has indicated gritty resolve and commitment to see it through. The protesters need to trust this Government because it means well for Nigerians, especially the youths.
“Street protests alone will not achieve the desired change. It is equally important to prevent the protests from completely degenerating into a free-wheeling melee leading to further loss of lives and wanton destruction. Government, which has a responsibility to maintain law and order, will not fold its hands and watch hoodlums kill innocent people or destroy public properties. A derailed reform movement serves no useful purpose to society.
#EndSARS protesters should therefore heed the wise counsel of many well-meaning Nigerians and vacate the streets to allow the Government to execute the much-needed Police Reforms.