President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for calm as the escalating protest by Nigerian youth demanding an end to police brutality threatens to spiral out of control.
President Akufo-Addo, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS, has urged dialogue in resolving the impasse, arguing that violence was not a panacea to the situation.
“I join all well-meaning persons in calling for calm, and the use of dialogue in resolving the #EndSARS impasse in Nigeria.
“I have spoken with President Buhari, who is committed to this end, and has begun the processes that will lead to reform, he said in a post on Wednesday.
“Violence, be it on the part of the Police or protesters, cannot be the solution. To the families who have lost their loved ones, I express my sincere condolences, and I wish the injured, a speedy recovery,” the President added.
Protests are ongoing across Nigeria for two weeks for an end to the country’s Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has gained notoriety for a litany of human abuses.
The protest has spurned a movement, mostly by the youth, which have used the social media hastag #EndSARS to gather a large following both in the country and across the globe, with Nigerians and foreign celebrities alike raising funds to support the campaign.
But the largely peaceful protest has over the last three days been characterised with violence, with protestors accusing agitators of infiltrating their ranks to perpetuate violence to discredit the movement.
The issue became heady when over 2000 prisoners were freed from jail and several infrastructure and property were destroyed in the course of the protest, prompting the governor of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial Capital, to declare a curfew on Tuesday to calm the situation
But protestors defied the order in some parts of Lagos. Some were allegedly fired on by suspected military officers at the Lekki Toll Booth axis of the state.
Witnesses have claimed that many of the protestors died from the attack, some going for a figure of some 20 dead persons. But the state authorities say that only one person died and 25 other were injured.
The situation has lighted the social media, with several eyewitness accounts and third party videos being shared across the globe about the Lekki incident.
The Nigerian Army has however denied that it opened fire on unarmed protestors. President Buahari has also appealed for calm as the government seeks a solution in earnest to the problems that originated the protest.