The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has noted with concern what it described as the mindless killings of protesters, paving a trail of bloodshed in a supposedly peaceful exercise has thrown thick clouds of uncertainties in the country.
The forum expressed dismay that Tuesday’s shootings of protesters who were holding the Nigerian flags at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, and the attendant destruction of private and public property was so unfortunate.
Dr Pogu Bitrus, the National President of MBF in a statement, said, “The shooting of scores of #EndSARS protesters in various states, especially Lagos, Imo, Delta, Plateau and Abuja, among others, have shown how these nonviolent marches have snowballed into mindless killings of protesters, paving a trail of bloodshed in a supposedly peaceful exercise. Tuesday’s shootings of protesters who were holding the Nigerian flags at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, and the attendant destruction of private and public property, have thrown thick clouds of uncertainties over our nation’s skies, thereby unleashing ominous signs on our country.”
The forum noted that the youth who were shot were not criminals but patriotic citizens marching against the brutality of the nation’s police that has horrified victims and citizens and made Nigeria the shame of the international community.
The forum lamented, “It is most tragic that more than 48 hours after the unprovoked murder of those youth who were proudly holding our national flag and reciting the national anthem, President Muhammadu Buhari has not found it appropriate to address the nation; a clear sign that our President is obviously devoid of wise counsel on the bloody turnout of the #EndSARS protests that have claimed scores of lives across the country.”
Arising from these bloody protests made possible by gory confrontations between the #EndSARS demonstrators and hoodlums, amidst allegation of deployment of soldiers that has so far been denied by the top army command, the leadership of the Middle Belt Forum totally condemned what it called vicious violence that are rocking the foundations of our dear country.
As the umbrella organisation representing ethnic nationalities in the defunct Northern region, MBF said it is grimly at pains over these coldblooded murders and violation of citizens’ rights to hold rallies against police brutality and demanding for a better country for all.
It noted that in a democratic nation like Nigeria, these nonviolent demonstrators ought to have been given protection by the state in order to forestall a possible hijack of these peaceful rallies by hired hoodlums.
The forum observed that considering the rising spate of bloody confrontations with alleged thugs that were hired to introduce violence in the #EndSARS protests so as to tarnish the peaceful dispositions of demonstrators, it called on President Buhari to intervene and stop further killings of these youths who are simply exercising their fundamental rights by calling the attention of the world to the cruelty of the police and demanding for a better country where the system works for citizens.
Considering the sequence of destruction and killings of citizens, including destruction of private and public property in various parts of the country, the forum advised President Buhari to quickly address the nation and make clear-cut commitments, with timelines, towards addressing the demands of the youth.
“It is only enough that in times of grave crisis that we are presently passing through, only the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, should be seen leading from the front,” the statement explained.
“The forum therefore appealed to President Buhari to immediately set up an independent judicial panel of enquiry to unearth circumstances under which these killings were perpetrated with the intention of bringing to book all those responsible for the unprovoked murders.
The Forum also pleaded with the President to make public the outcome of the panel’s investigation and ensure that those found guilty are punished so as to serve as deterrents to others.
The forum added, “Justice can only be fully served when the Federal Government compensates families of victims who lost their lives in the course of these peaceful protests. It would only serve the purpose of justice for the government to settle all bills accrued by protesters still receiving medical attention in various private and public hospitals.”