Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the Tuesday shooting of #EndSARS protesters by security operatives at the Lekki toll gate plaza in Lagos State.
Jonathan who acknowledged that the past few days have been difficult for all Nigerians however called on all parties to embrace peace and dialogue, noting that no country makes progress while fighting.
He lamented the loss of lives and properties that have occurred in the past few days, condemned the hijack by hoodlums of what started as a peaceful protest demanding a better Nigeria, and urged security operatives to show maximum restraint while carrying out their constitutional duties.
To the current leaders, Jonathan noted in his statement on Thursday that it must be understood that a nation can never win the battle against its own people.
The former President said it “has been a difficult time to me as well,” adding that Nigeria “cannot afford to lose the lives of our youth who we look up to take over leadership and continue our nation’s journey to greatness”.
“As leaders, we must understand that a nation can never win a battle against its own people,” he said.
“Thus, the use of deadly force against citizens only aggravates tense situations rather than assuage it. We must therefore move away from battlegrounds to middle grounds in our individual and national life. This, I believe, epitomises the essence of democracy.
“I condemn any unnecessary loss of life and urge efforts to be stepped up to ensure that there is no such reoccurrence.
“We all must accept that we are all brothers and sisters of one Nigeria, and always act towards each other accordingly.”
Naijakit recalls that the #EndSARS protests which started as a call on the government to look into the excesses of the Nigeria Police Force, particularly operatives of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), quickly metamorphosed into an agitation for an end to bad governance in Nigeria.
Things however got bad after some hoodlums started taking advantage of the protests, forcing the government to declare curfew so as to restore law and order, but which eventually culminated in Tuesday’s shooting at the Lekki toll gate plaza.
This sparked further protests and agitation with several public and private buildings burnt, shops looted and lives lost in the process.
Though the government is yet to release official figures as they claim investigations are ongoing, Amnesty International claims 12 people died in the Lekki shooting as well as a related development in Ikeja.
Reacting to the chaos, Jonathan in his statement, reiterated that “nobody’s interest is worth the blood of any Nigerian citizen.”
He urged Nigerians and particularly the youths to “give peace a chance especially now that different stakeholders have demonstrated the willingness to investigate the various allegations of excessive use of force on citizens and address the culture of impunity by security personnel”.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, met with the nation’s security chiefs at the council chambers of the presidential villa in Abuja.
This is coming about 24 hours after the president held a National Security Council meeting during which he was briefed on current security issues in the country by the chiefs.
Naijakit however understands that the President is not meeting with just the security chiefs this time around, but former presidents have also joined Friday’s meeting virtually.
Though it is a closed-door meeting and the agenda is yet to be made available to newsmen, it is understood that the meeting, which was convened by President Buhari started around 10am and is expected to discuss national security issues, challenges, and solutions.