Security Council talks tough on EndSARS protest
• Vows to tackle insecurity nationwide
• Resolves to empower police against crime
• Rep asks Malami to apologise for absolving soldiers
As state judicial panels of inquiry probe allegations of brutality against police, the National Security Council, yesterday, vowed to take decisive measures to avert a repeat of the EndSARS protest and to confront insecurity in parts of the country.
This came as a member of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP: Kogi), asked the Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to tender an apology to Nigerians for allegedly lying that it was not soldiers that shot at EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
The Council issued stern warning against unlawful protest at the quarterly meeting it held at the State House, Abuja with President Muhammadu Buhari presiding.
Members of the council that attended the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Ministers of Defence Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd); Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd).
The nation’s service chiefs in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar; Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rafa’i Abubakar; and the Director-General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, said the council was worried by recent developments and determined to forestall another protest.
He said the meeting, held behind closed doors, also expressed concern about increasing cases of banditry, particularly in the North-East and North-West, and resolved to be more decisive in tackling the situation and to empower the police to maintain peace in the country.
While commending government on efforts to reposition the Nigeria Police Force, the minister said the Buhari administration was poised to support security agencies to end all forms of protests for peace to return to the country.
“Mr. President assured Nigerians he would do whatever it would take to ensure the repeat of ENDSARS protests do not occur in Nigeria again,” stressing that all stakeholders would be involved in the effort to maintain peace in the country. He, however, stated that the Federal Government would be humane in handling security matters in the country.
According to him, government would continue to dialogue with stakeholders towards preventing a repeat of the destruction that followed the protest.
On banditry, the minister said government had degraded criminals and ruled out their resurgence. He dismissed current attacks by bandits, saying they are “just trying to show their presence in very cowardly manner”.
Dingyadi also debunked reports that police had abandoned the Abuja-Kaduna road.
He said: “That place is being monitored 24 hours. There are police and the army who are on a kind of joint patrol on 24 hours basis. We also have our own separate police formation that is also on that road. I think it is an overstatement to say that that place is not being secured.”
Relevant authorities, he added, were working to ensure 24-hour surveillance across states to provide security for citizens.
ON his complaint against Malami, Yusuf said it was unfortunate that the chief law officer lied by saying it was hoodlums dressed in military fatigues that shot at protesters.
He also, in a statement, advised the Federal Government to defreeze bank accounts and release passports of Nigerian youths that took part in the nationwide EndSARS protest, which sought an end to policy brutality.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria reportedly obtained court injunction to freeze accounts linked to #EndSARS protesters.
Yusuf also described as “condemnable” the circumstances surrounding withdrawal of two youth members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and subsequent resumption of sitting during the weekend.
Yusuf said Malami’s alleged statement that “hoodlum in military fatigues shot at protesters deserves to be followed with a national apology.”
He described as “thoroughly confounding” that in spite of the Federal Government’s promise to look into the demands of protesters, it went after suspected leaders of the protest.