President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for the use of dialogue to ensure calm in Nigeria, as the authorities seek to tackle the ongoing disturbances in the country, triggered by protests dubbed EndSARS.
The President in a statement on his Facebook wall, yesterday, disclosed that he had spoken with President Muhammadu Buhari, who had assured him (Akufo-Addo) that he had commenced with processes that would lead to the reforms the people are demanding.
“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,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian youth and the civil society to urgently pursue dialogue for an early and amicable resolution to the series of protests that has hit the country.
The ECOWAS Commission has further asked that the social unrest ends so that Nigerian image as a bastion of law and order is restored.
This was contained in statement signed by Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission.
The Commission called for the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.
“ECOWAS Commission notes with concern that demonstrations by Nigerian youth calling for police reform, particularly the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, accused of misconduct by those demonstrating, have turned violent. ECOWAS Commission expresses its condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives during the protests and wishes the injured a speedy recovery,” the statement added.
It added that whilst the Commission recognises the right of citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protests, “it is also of the view that those rights should be exercised in a non-violent manner.”
“In this regard, ECOWAS Commission calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations. It also urges the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally,” the statement appealed.
The Commission again said it recognises, as part of efforts to address the demands of the protesters, that the Nigerian government takes decisions such as disbanding SARS as well as comprehensive police reforms.
To this end, the Commission has urged the Nigerian authorities to conduct investigations into all forms of police brutalities rapidly.
Protests began two weeks ago after a video was circulated showing a man apparently being beaten by police officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS.
The SARS was a special branch of the Nigerian Police Force created in 1992 to deal with crimes associated with robbery and firearms.
However, the group quickly became controversial for its links to extrajudicial killings, torture and other illegal activities.
Amnesty International has reported cases of unlawful killings and police brutality allegedly carried out by the group for years.