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Naira Redesign: Sanwo-Olu declares zero tolerance for arson, violent demonstrations

By Odita Sunday (Abuja) and Gbenga Salau (Lagos)
19 February 2023   |   4:06 am
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, said that there was no justification for Nigerians to attack public or private property over Naira redesign.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (middle); Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya; Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Commissioner for Women and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Mrs. Cecilia Dada; her counterparts, Energy and Mineral Resources, Olalere Odusote; Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde; Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso and Justice/the Attorney General Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN); when the governor addressed Lagos residents on current crisis caused by currency swap and fuel scarcity in the country, at the Lagos House, Marina…yesterday

•Appeals For More Calm
•Applauds Security Agents Over Quick Response
•Police Warn Against Divisive, Crisis-prone Utterances

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, said that there was no justification for Nigerians to attack public or private property over Naira redesign.

He also warned that the law enforcement agents had received clear instructions to take full control and ensure zero tolerance for acts of arson, violence and destruction.

In an address following protests and violent demonstrations in some parts of Lagos, on Friday, Sanwo-Olu enjoined all law-abiding Lagos residents to go about their lawful activities without fear.

He implored everyone to remain calm and avoid any form of violence that might throw the state into chaos.

The governor empathised with Lagosians over the hardship caused by the Federal Government’s currency swap policy.

While he acknowledged the residents’ frustration and the difficulties associated with the effort to exchange old Naira notes to the newly ones and its attendant effects on livelihood, the governor said destructive demonstrations was not the answer.

Meanwhile, the Police in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, signed by its Spokesperson, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, warned Nigerians to shun divisive utterances.

The statement read: “Amidst the prevailing outcries and reactions on the new naira policy in the country, the Nigeria Police Force has deemed it necessary to caution groups and individuals against divisive comments and utterances capable of heating up the polity and triggering crisis in the nation.

“This call is highly imperative as the Police perceive the reactions and utterances of certain groups and individuals as an attempt to heat up the polity and spontaneously instigate the populace against the government and its policies for their peculiar interests and gains.

“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), therefore, charges the citizenry of Nigeria to remain calm and embrace peace as the Federal Government has assured that it is taking the bull by the horn to address the scarcity of naira and fuel and restore normalcy in all sectors.

“Similarly, the populace is, hereby, urged to desist from any act of violence, hooliganism, and vandalism that may jeopardise the ongoing electoral process, which is significant and critical in the transitional advancement of democracy in Nigeria…”

“The NPF will like to assure the general public that it is working in concert with Defence, security, and intelligence agencies to provide a peaceful environment for all citizens to conduct their socio-economic activities.

Sanwo-Olu urged Lagosians to resist unscrupulous opportunists seeking to take advantage of the widespread frustration to hijack the situation and create crisis.

He said: “This address is necessary in view of the ongoing situation in the country, regarding the change of currency notes and the attendant hardships being faced by ordinary Lagosians. I acknowledge your patience and unwavering perseverance in these challenging times. As your governor, my heartfelt call to you is to remain calm at this time and avoid all forms of violence, arson and rioting. In the face of the difficulties and frustrations, violence and destruction should not and will never be the answer.

“We must resist the move by opportunists, who seek to take advantage of the anger and frustration that to hijack the situation and foment trouble. There are unscrupulous persons, who want to sow seeds of violence and discord by their utterances and actions, all with the view of robbing you of the chance to cast your votes in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. Do not allow them to use you to achieve their evil intentions.”

Sanwo-Olu said the state Government was fully aware of the challenges the residents were faced with in accessing cash and get other essential commodities, adding that the government was working hard to scale up palliative measures to lessen the burden on the masses.

The governor said the 50 per cent reduction in transport fares across the state-owned transportation system – BRT, LAGRIDE, FMLM and ferries – would continue, as part of the palliative approach adopted by the government to reduce hardship on Lagosians.

He frowned at what he described as “rampant incidents of extortion” by players in the financial services value chain, especially Point of Sale (PoS) operators, as well as petrol station attendants, who are cashing in on the situation.

He appealed to those involved in extortion to desist from such sharp practices, urging them to be their brothers’ keepers and support the efforts to lessen the hardships being faced by the masses.

“This is not the period to sacrifice our empathy, compassion and humanity on the altar of profit-ßmaking,” Sanwo-Olu said.