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#EndInsecurityNow: Northern Coalition Begins Protest In 19 States

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The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), yesterday, said it would commence an indefinite protest in the 19 northern states over rising insecurity, economic hardship and prolonged closure of universities in the region.
The group accused the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan and other northern leaders of abandoning the region, as opposed to southern leaders, who they claimed, were always there for their people and even stood up against the operations of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, said the protest would be tagged #EndInsecurityNow, and would be sustained until the Federal Government met their demand for the declaration of a state of emergency on security in the north, among others.
“It is contradictory that despite several protests and pleas by northerners, the authorities never deemed it fit to extend the swift spirit deployed against FSARS into securing the North, or addressing the myriad distresses faced by northerners.
“The authorities appear bent on sustaining the harsh, unacceptable regime of exploitative hikes in electricity tariffs for which the North shall bear the brunt more than other parts of the country.
“The Federal Government appears not keen on resolving the lingering dispute with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to enable the recommencement of university education.
“The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has followed developments around the globe and necessary steps taken by Nigerian citizens in some parts of the country including some northern states to call attention to the deteriorating national security and other pressing concerns around the dwindling economy, prohibitive commodity prices, rising inflation amidst mounting poverty and prolonged stay at home by university students.
“The CNG notes the appreciative progression of the citizens’ action that climaxed with government’s swift response to one of the concerns raised with the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, and its immediate replacement with Special Weapon And Tactics Team (SWAT).
“CNG notes also the reassuring cooperation and solidarity extended by governors and elected representatives to the protesters in mostly the southern parts of the country and Zamfara and Borno states in the North”, it added.

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Wike Inaugurates Judicial Panel To Investigate Rights Abuses By F-SARS

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has inaugurated a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate acts of brutality and violation of fundamental human rights perpetrated by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state.
The commission, with members drawn from Nigerian Bar Association, FIDA, youth, civil society, women and religious groups, is expected to submit its report 60 days from the date of its first sitting.
Wike, at the inauguration ceremony at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, explained that the commission was set up in exercise of powers conferred on him by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the provisions of Section 2(1) of the Commission of Inquiry Law of Rivers State (Cap 30) Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
Present at inauguration ceremony were the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor; the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo; Commissioner of Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, among others.
The governor charged the commission to ascertain whether any of the officers, men and operatives of the police, particularly, F-SARS involved in alleged acts of violence, torture, brutality, murder, violation of fundamental human rights or other atrocities in Rivers State was sponsored, counselled and procured by any person, group of persons, or officer of Rivers State government by whatever designation.
He said the commission was expected to identify persons or group of persons who counselled, procured and sponsored alleged acts of violence and violation of human rights of citizens committed by personnel of F-SARS in the state.
Wike tasked the commission to identify the victims of the said alleged acts of atrocities committed by officers and men of F-SARS.
He tasked the commission to ascertain the motive if any of the officers and operatives of F-SARS, who committed or participated in the commission of the alleged acts of torture, murder, brutality and violation of rights that occurred in Rivers State.
In addition, the governor directed the commission to ascertain whether any of the victims of the alleged acts of violence by F-SARS was being held in detention or custody and the identify of such victim as well as place of detention.
The commission was enjoined to make appropriate recommendations to the government on measures and means of preventing the occurrence of such acts of violence and violation of rights perpetrated by operatives of F-SARS, and how they can be held accountable for such acts.
“Recommend appropriate sanctions, punishment or other penalties to be imposed on the perpetrators of the said acts of violence, torture, murder, and violation of fundamental rights and/or other atrocities that occurred in Rivers State”, Wike said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the commission, Justice Chukwunenye I. Uriri (rtd) lauded the governor for the privilege to serve the state.
He assured the governor that the commission would discharge its duties with clear conscience and within the limits of the law.
Other members of the commission are: Mrs Florence Amiesimaka (FIDA); Tonye Ibisiki, Esq, (Nigerian Bar Association); Karl Chinedu Uchegbu (civil society); Chijioke Ihunwo (youth group); Rev. Richard Opara (religious group); Mrs Bella Ebeku (women group); Dr. George Nwaeke (secretary), and Barrister Somiete Inko-Tariah (counsel to the commission).

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US Govt Condemns Use Of Force Against Peaceful Protesters In Nigeria …As AU Seeks Dialogue

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The United States Government has condemned the excessive use of force by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in quelling peaceful #EndSARS protests in parts of the country.
A statement by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Washington, D.C., and made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said that the action by government security agencies failed to meet global best practices of respect for peaceful assembly and the fundament rights of citizens to freely express their discontent over any anti-people policies of the government.
The statement read, “The United States strongly condemns the use of excessive force by military forces who fired at unarmed demonstrators in Lagos, causing death and injury.
“We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces.
“Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law.
“The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles.
“We call on the security services to show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and for demonstrators to remain peaceful.
“We extend our condolences to the victims of the violence and their families.”
It would be recalled that some security operatives, suspected to be soldiers, had last Tuesday, opened fire on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, in Lagos, killing no fewer than 12 persons, in addition to fatalities recorded in Abuja, Abia, Oyo, among others.
Meanwhile, the civil society organ of the African Union, Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), has called on the Federal Government and the protesters to dialogue and peacefully resolve the current impasse in order to prevent further fragmentation of the national fabric.
The Chairperson, Political Affairs Cluster, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, who this, yesterday, added that Nigeria was an integral part of the African Union.
The AU organ has the mandate to promote the principles and ideals of good governance and human rights in the continent.
According to him, “Nigeria has a significant role to play in the fortification of the founding principles of a people-centered and people-driven African Union as elaborated in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and other regional and global human rights instruments.”
Abdulai said that ECOSOCC noted with grave concern events unfolding in Nigeria following reports of the use of deadly force by armed military officers against unarmed civilian protesters calling for action by the government of Nigeria to end police brutality under the hashtag #EndSARS.
He added that it is the inalienable responsibility of the government of Nigeria to pursue amicable solutions to disagreements with citizens in the interest of peace and stability in the nation.
The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), therefore, called for “an urgent de-escalation of the current unrest in Nigeria with a view to protecting the lives of citizens.
“Urge the governing authorities to restore conditions allowing for citizens to peacefully protest and express themselves on issues affecting the safety and well-being of Nigerians; and to do so without fear of retribution, confrontation, or violence that could lead to the loss of life and destruction of property.
“Encourage all parties, including the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and protesting citizens, to come together around the table of dialogue and to act, in good faith, to swiftly and peacefully resolve the current impasse in order to prevent any further fragmentation of the national fabric.
“Urge the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to reinforce and expedite the work of the various committees of inquiry established to look into the issue of police brutality in order to restore the confidence of citizens in the institutions of state.
“Call for a thorough, fair, and independent investigation of reports and video footage appearing to show the shooting of unarmed protesters by uniformed personnel; and to ensure justice for victims and perpetrators alike.”

 

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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We Won’t Allow Anybody To Disrupt Peace Of Nigeria, Buhari Vows

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, vowed not to allow anybody to disrupt the peace of the nation amidst violent protests in the country.
In a nationwide broadcast, Buhari, said that his government respected and would continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but that it would not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of the nation.
The president said it had become necessary for him to address the nation having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the security chiefs.
“I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well–intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),” he warned.
The president said on Monday, October 12, he acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.
He said the choice to demonstrate peacefully was a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of the Constitution and other enactments; but noted that this right to protest also imposed on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.
Buhari stated that as a democratic government, he listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters and that having accepted them; his government immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive police reforms. Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.
“All these executed in the name of the #EndSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.
“The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour,” he said.
Buhari added: “Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country. We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.
“We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.”
The president appealed to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.
“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security, and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated. I, therefore, call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.
“And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect. Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.
“This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation,” Buhari added.

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