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How #ENDSARS protests affect plans for Lagos East bye-elections

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The candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for October 31, 2020 senatorial bye-election in Lagos East, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, his opponents, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Mr. Akin Olukunle of National Rescue Mission (NRM) have expressed different opinions on the ongoing protests by
the youths, who were calling for an end to Special AntiRobbery Squad (#ENDSARS) in the Nigeria Police Force.

While Abiru and Olukunle admonished the irate youth to embrace dialogue as a means of addressing their grievances, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse, media director to PDP senatorial candidate, Babatunde Gbadamosi of Babajide Gbadamosi Campaign, encouraged angry youths to sustain their protests to a logical conclusion.

Abiru expressed regret over how hoodlums hijacked the #ENDSARS protests nationwide, which culminated in loss of lives and destruction of properties. The former Executive Director in First Bank and immediate past CEO of Polaris Bank pleaded with youths who have genuine grievances to take advantage of dialogue and other
peaceful means to engage the federal and state governments.

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He noted that due to the violence, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was forced to declare a 24-hour curfew to put an end to unnecessary bloodletting, violent attacks and
destruction of public assets. The governor had earlier canvassed comprehensive reforms of the Nigeria Police as one of the strategies to stop the defunct Special AntiRobbery Squad (SARS) from brutalising young people.

Abiru also urged the Federal Government to fully implement the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS, which according to him would go a long way to change public perception of the Nigeria Police.

As hoodlums hijacked the protests in Abuja, Benin and Lagos, Abiru condemned the violent attacks that led to the destruction of public assets and police officers, lawful protesters and fellow Nigerians.

He said; “I watched videos of arson, carnage and gory scenes of violence with deep sadness. This ugly development depicts a high level of dehumanisation. In every
sense, this is unacceptable, and it must stop forthwith in the interest of peace and unity.”

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The APC candidate therefore passionately pleaded with the protesting youths with genuine grievances to give room for dialogue with the federal and state governments to secure governments’ commitment to police reforms.

“The protesting youth with a genuine grievance should, as a matter of urgency, exploit this window, at least, as the first step to building a new policing order and make police authorities accountable across the federation,” Abiru explained.

However, Pearse asked the protesters to keep up the pressure. According to him; “This government has destroyed our future in Nigeria. It is an illegitimate administration that cares less about the people, especially the future of Nigeria youth.”

He told the youth to be more politically inclined in their struggle for good governance, adding, “this is the only way to put an end to the illegitimate government.”

He also urged INEC to postpone the by-election due to the ongoing protest, saying, “We are still battling with voter apathy. What if this crisis persists, many people
will definitely not come out to vote on October 31.”

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Olukunle, on his part, said INEC should have no other choice than to shift the bye-elections to allow the tensions across Nigeria and Lagos in particular subside.

Although, INEC has initiated moves to shift the election, but the decision would be ratified after the commission’s meeting with necessary stakeholders.
Olukunle said he was sad over the killings of innocent youths by armed military and police officers.

He said Nigerian youths should embrace dialogue. He, however, said it was sad that Nigerian youths, who are asking for their legitimate rights to good government, better welfare for police were unfortunately killed by armed security agents.

He also said with the situation on the ground, it was necessary for the commission to postpone the election. Also, some inside sources in APC told The Guardian that the
the party was also not comfortable with the election holding on October 31.

National Publicity Secretary, of Africa Democratic Party (ADP), Prince Adelaja Adeoye said it is important for INEC to shift the bye-election. He also encouraged protesters to sustain their agitation otherwise the present government cannot be trusted for whatever promises it makes.

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