FG Rejects Plans by Youths to Stage Another Protest
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The federal government has vehemently kicked against plans by some youths in the country to stage another protest in Lagos.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, while addressing newsmen on Thursday, said the nation was yet to heal from the October 2020 demonstrations, which led to the destruction of lives and properties after some hoodlums hijacked the peaceful protests.
The federal government was accused of using thugs to disrupt the action of the #EndSARS protesters based on social media images, but the Nigerian authorities denied this.
A few days ago, the judicial panel instituted by the Lagos State government to look into police brutality and the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters in the Lekki Toll Gate area of the state allowed the return of the toll plaza to the operators.
This sparked reactions on social media as some youths claimed it was wrong to reopen the toll gate when the panel was yet to conclude its investigation.
Four of the nine-member judicial panel also kicked against the development and this led to some youths threatening to occupy the facility for another protest on Saturday.
Worried that the youths will carry out this action, the federal government today said it would not allow such because the country was yet to recover from last year’s exercise.
“Any further resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time. The security agents are ready for any eventuality,” Mr Mohammed said.
According to him, “No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of #EndSARS protests last year.
“After all, only one policeman – (plus four others) – was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other,” he stressed.
“We, therefore, strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist.
“We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria. They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics,” the Minister stated.
Mr Mohammed urged the youths not to allow the likes of Twitter, Facebook and others to destroy Nigeria because if such happens, “we will bear the brunt.”
He reminded them how various social media platforms “quickly pulled the plug on even their own President when the chips were down in their own country.”
According to him, in the 2020 #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, these tech giants “eagerly nudged on the #EndSARS protesters until the situation got out of hand,” noting that, “I hope we have all learnt our lessons.”
However, the Minister quickly emphasised that “while peaceful protests are the constitutional rights of Nigerians, violent protests are not.”
“At this time, the chances that any peaceful protest will be hijacked are very high. Based on the intelligence at the disposal of the Federal Government, some Nigerian activists have linked up with others outside Nigeria, including subversive elements, with a view to destabilizing the country. We cannot and must not allow this to happen” he submitted.