Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed on Sunday said the ongoing #EndSARS protests in the country have been hijacked by “hoodlums” with an ulterior motive to bring down the government.
The government had met the demands of the protesters and implemented measures to reform the police, and it was absurd that protesters were remaining on the streets causing mayhem, obstructing movements and inflicting pains on citizens, the minister told Radio Nigeria, a state-owned radio station.
“From the five demands which were initially tabled and have been addressed, they are now including petrol price, national assembly salaries and allowances, electricity tariff among others,” he said.
“Then you begin to ask yourself what exactly is the motive of the protests and who are those behind them,” he said.
He said Saturday’s attack attempt on Adegboyega Oyetola, governor of Osun state in southwest Nigeria who came out to identify with the protesters and address them was a clear indication that the protest had been hijacked.
“While the government will continue to engage, no responsible government will fold its arms and allow the state to be thrown into anarchy,” he said.
In recent days, protests marked by “EndSARS” have taken place in major cities across Nigeria, demanding justice for those reportedly killed or maimed by the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit created by police with anti-robbery intentions.
The ongoing protests, the largest in Nigeria since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, are mainly calling on the government to reform the police force.
On Oct. 11, police authorities disbanded SARS across police commands in the country, saying that such a move was in response to what Nigerians wanted.