Former Governor of Lagos State and APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu, has appealed to young Nigerians who have been protesting against police brutality and extra-judicial killings, not to give off the impression that they want to change the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters have blocked major and strategic roads across the country for 13 days; and their numbers have swelled as the protests have worn on.
There have also been clashes between the protesters and police personnel; with hoodlums seizing on the road blockades to attack commuters and protesters alike.
Tinubu, who is the national leader of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), says the protesters will do well not to fritter goodwill by preventing other road users from going about their normal businesses.
“If government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that there is a positive change by government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.
“The protesters have made considerable gains within a very short period. But they should also be careful not to fritter away such gains due to lack of moderation and strategic thinking.
“For instance, it is unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs and assorted criminals have seized on the protests to perpetrate violence, disrupt civil life and harass, intimidate and assault innocent persons going about their lawful business,” Tinubu said.
He added that; “the intent of the organizers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted. It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalized anarchy or effect regime change.
“If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule.
“However, the protesters must be careful not to set the stage for the erosion or destruction of the same democratic process that gives them the freedom and right to protest in the first place.
“Their democratic right to protest must not be exercised in such a way that impedes the democratic right of other citizens to freedom of movement, expression and the liberty to pursue their livelihoods.
“I also strongly appeal to the protesters – you have made your point. Government has made its commitment to you. Please, Please and please, call off the protests. Give the government a chance to implement your demands. God bless you.”
At least 20 people have been killed since the protests were renewed on October 8, 2020.
Even though President Muhammadu Buhari has acceded to some of the demands of the protesting youths by scrapping the rogue and brutal police unit, SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) and firing some police officers who engaged in human rights violations, the sit-in protests and massively attended candle-light processions have continued across the country.
On Saturday, October 17, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo apologised for the human rights violations suffered by Nigerians at the hands of the police.
Buhari, 77, was re-elected for a second term in office in February 2019. His constitutionally permissible two-terms of eight years in office elapses in 2023.