Ekiti State Government has described the rumour emanating from social media that soldiers have taken over Ado Ekiti, the state capital and chased protesters with guns as untrue and misleading.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Ado Ekiti, the State Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Hon. Akin Omole explained that soldiers did not engage the protesters even as they barricaded most roads in the State capital throughout Monday.
Hon. Omole stressed that the soldiers were in the state to protect the people, including the protesters as well as to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful protest by hiding behind the demonstration to commit crime and harass innocent citizens.
Describing the present administration in the State as a respecter of human rights led by a renowned activist and an advocate of good governance, Omole advised the End SARS protesters to remain law-abiding and refrain from harassing innocent fellow citizens to avoid a total hijack of the protest by criminals and hooligans.
Omole noted that Governor Fayemi promptly set up a Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS and Related Abuses to investigate possible cases of police brutality in the state in line with the decision of the Governors’ forum and the recommendation of the National Economic Council.
The Commissioner assured that the panel which has retired Justice Cornelius Akintayo as Chairman and representation from Civil Society Organizations, including youth groups, will look into verifiable cases of SARS brutality and fatality and ensure offending SARS officers are identified and prosecuted appropriately while victims or their families are duly compensated.
He stated that the government is not unaware that the concerns of the public go beyond a need for Police/SARS reforms to a basic demand for better governance emphasizing that the State Government had already commenced consultation with the people to address the fundamental issues that led to the protests with the establishment of the panel.
Omole, however, described news of some skirmishes amongst the protesters as well as reported clashes between the End SARS protesters and pro-SARS demonstrators in some parts of the country as disturbing; stressing that government has the primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of the people under all circumstances.
Advising the protesters, Omole cautioned that, “while the present administration in Ekiti recognizes and respects the right of peaceful assembly, and in fact, identifies with the people on the demand for good governance, all stakeholders must be mindful of the safety of all lives and both public and private properties in the State.
“Innocent law-abiding citizens should be allowed to go about their lawful businesses without hindrance while there must be due cognizance of the fact that willful destruction of properties will be detrimental to the socio-economic well-being of the people”.
He assured that the Fayemi led administration would continue to work towards making life more meaningful for people in the State in spite of the global economic downturn and the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.