The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, in a statement signed by the national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, has said, the way and manner with which security operatives treated those who peacefully engaged in the #EndSARS protest, on Wednesday October 20, 2021, at the Lekki Toll Gate, in Lagos State, “clearly shows that, the government and the police, have not demonstrated that, the lessons inherent in October 20, 2020 mean anything to them.”
Afenifere spokesperson, Comrade Ajayi, in his respective view, called it ‘unfortunate’, the way security officials handled and dispersed protesters with canons of teargas, who had gathered in Lagos and in some other places in the country, to commemorate the one year anniversary of the October 20, 2020 unfortunate incident.
“For some time to come, October 20, of every year, will continue to be a reminder of the little value that the Nigeria nation places on the life and future of its youths, going by how it treated youths who were protesting at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on October 20, 2020.”
Afenifere, is again of the opinion that, one year down the line, the attitude of the government, and that of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to youths of the country, who called for the disbandment of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), on October 20, 2020, is still on the reverse.
“If anything, the promises appear to be kept in reverse. For, other than the nomenclature SARS that has been officially removed, the same persons who were members of the organization still don police uniforms. That is not the problem. The problem is that they are still exhibiting the attitude that ignited the call for the disbandment of their organization in the first place. That is the attitude of extortion, of harassment, of brutality, and downright disregard for the fundamental human rights of the citizens. All these still continue unabated”.
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, through the spokesperson affirmed,
“Not only that, the failure of the government to fulfill the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari, on the issue, has added to the list of how the government continue to alienate itself from the people.”
It would be recalled that, after the October 20, 2020 Lagos Lekki Toll Gate incident, during which unspecified number of people lost their lives, and properties worth billions of naira damaged in some states of the federation, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, in his January 1, 2021 national broadcast, in reference to the alleged Toll Gate massacre, said, the youths protest, asking for police reform and economic re-engineering, is ‘understandable’.
The President, who also described Nigerian youths, as ‘our most valuable natural resources’, added that, “This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.”
President Buhari then assured the youths that, ‘Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you…’
The President also said, all the key stakeholders, who are committed to the unity of Nigeria, will see to it that every region of this nation is safe for us all. He guaranteed Nigerians that, ‘the future is secure for the coming generation.’
Afenifere spokesperson Ajayi, however said, since the President made the promise on 1st of January, 2021, to ‘fulfilling the five (5) demands of our youths’, there is nothing on ground to show that the promises would be kept or in the process of being kept.
Comrade Jare Ajayi, therefore, called on the federal government, ‘to let the affirmation contained in the President’s speech, manifest in government’s actions’. He appealed to the government, to release those who were arrested in connection with the #EndSARS protest, fulfill the five (5) demands of the youths, and allow youths’ creative ingenuity to blossom, work hard on ending insecurity, and to restructure the country into true federalism, in which each region is able to determine its own affairs.