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Abdusalami, ACF back campaign, urge calm

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Abdulsalami Abubakar

Chairman of the National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) have backed the ongoing #EndSARS protests, noting that the agitations were constitutional.

The erstwhile military Head of State appealed to the Nigerian leader to prioritise the concerns of the youths by coming up with a short, medium and long-term programme for the growth of the nation’s fledgeling democracy.

He urged the youths to embrace dialogue, pointing out that the longer the fulminations fester, the higher the chances of their being infiltrated for selfish ends.

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In a statement in Abuja, Abubakar said the right to protest “is considered a cardinal principle in human existence wherever individuals live together as a family or
a community.”

He went on: “We have watched with utter shock, deep sorrow and sadness, the events that have taken place across the country in the wake of these protests by
our youths. We have seen ugly scenes that are totally unrelated to the goals of the youth protesters.

This is very sad, but we call for calm among our people and appeal to the President to ensure that the rights of citizens are fully respected and protected. We appeal to all sides to heed the saying: A giant does not lose anything by bending down to shake hands with a dwarf. We call on all sides to sheathe their sword, and find a common ground for negotiations.”

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Decrying certain actions that run foul of the noble project, the elder statesman called for caution, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic “does not recognise our protests, and it is dangerous for us to let our guards down, especially when we see what is happening around the world with the new threats of the resurgence of this pandemic.”

He continued: “Every community is formed and strengthened by the contribution of all its members.

The respect for and defence of the right of each member of the community is what sustains and strengthens that community. Therefore, when an individual or some members feel aggrieved, it is their right to seek redress within the rules guiding their existence, and that of the community.

Like millions of other Nigerians, we all concede that it is within the rights of our youths to express their grievances with the system. However, the right to protest is not an absolute right independent of the machinery and laws that govern a given society.

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Whenever an individual or a group protests in the face of an injury, it is often based on the fact that other remedies have not worked.

Notwithstanding this, the right of the protester must include the belief that a redress will benefit both the aggrieved and the larger society.”

The ACF, in a communiquéissued by the National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, at the end of its National Executive Council Meeting in Kaduna, claimed that policing, criminal system and management of law and order had fallen in the country in recent years.

The northern leaders noted that the reform being agitated by the demonstrators were long overdue.

They appealed to the Federal Government not to allow the opportunity presented by the protests slip off, “but to carry out sincere reforms.”

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