Statement of Northern Elders Forum on On-Going Protests
Northern Elders Forum has closely followed the protests which began as response to prolonged and widespread abuse by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and related issues on the need for higher levels of accountability by leaders and state institutions. The Forum had released a Statement a week ago in which it drew attention to the fact that there were genuine grounds for anger at accumulated grievances around the security and welfare of Nigerians, especially in the North. We had advised that governments must embark on far-reaching changes and reforms, and introduce policies that should improve security and economic well-being of Nigerians.
These protests have registered tremendous success, including acceptance of responsibility for the federal government to abolish SARS and undertake further action towards improving accountability of operatives and institutions. It was particularly noteworthy that young Nigerians led these protests in its early stages, and the Forum acknowledges the heroism of these young people who stood up to say, enough! We have also noted that tragically, some people have lost their lives in these protests.
Unfortunately it now appears that other interests have taken over these protests and are compounding our collective security. Like most Nigerians, the Forum is alarmed at criminal acts such as attacks on specific persons, emptying prisons, molesting innocent citizens and attacking policemen. We are very concerned that these acts of criminality suggest that other interests with criminal intent or subversive goals have taken over these protests. If these acts continue, as they will unless we bring these protests come to an immediate end, every law-abiding citizen, including protesters who are pursuing legitimate goals, are in danger. The Forum does not believe that this is part of the agenda of the overwhelming majority of protesters.
The Forum therefore calls for an immediate end to these protests across the nation. It further calls on the federal government to take steps to protect innocent citizens and honour its commitment to serious changes in the manner it handles our security. We call on all leaders to take steps to lower tensions, engage young people to give them assurances that their cause is not lost, and close ranks to stop subversives from plunging the nation into deeper crises. We appeal once again to young Nigerians to salvage what they have achieved so far, and prevent opportunists and criminals from hijacking the good work they have accomplished.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
Director, Publicity and Advocacy,
Northern Elders Forum
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