For the third time in about 10 days, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has identified with the protests against the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The Governor braved all odds on Monday to address the protesters in Lekki where crowds of youths camped and blocked the expressway. He urged them to be decorous and peaceful while expressing their grievances against the excessive use of force by SARS.
Sanwo-Olu left the weekly meeting of the State Executive Council and moved to address the EndSARS protesters.
The governor told the demonstrators that their protest was legitimate, but pleaded with them not to block the roads while passing on their grievances to the authorities.
Sanwo-Olu said he identified with the EndSARS campaigners, noting that their agitations touched the essence of democratic freedom. He said citizens must never be denied the rights to protest, but urged the protesters not to employ wrong methods to drive home their message.
He said: “Your voice has been heard clearly and a clear pronouncement has been made on the activities of SARS. The operation has been dissolved by the police leadership and just a moment ago, Mr. President addressed the nation on the issues you have raised. The President has said all SARS officers that are involved in the killing of innocent people and engaging in human rights abuses will be brought to justice.
“My stance on this EndSARS is unmistakable and I have told you that we identify with this protest because you have legitimate concerns. I am saying it again here that this protest is in good faith. But, we must not be unruly when going out on a protest like this. We want you to be peaceful and decorous in expressing yourselves.”
Sanwo-Olu said he spoke with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, on Monday to outline the position of the Lagos State Government on police reforms, adding that he will visit President Buhari on Tuesday and present the demands of Lagos youths on the issues.
The Governor praised the courage of the protesters and urged them not to block the key road.
The protesters were largely uncoordinated. They rebuffed pleas to open the road and demanded the physical presence of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters remained unruly but the Governor made his point – they should not allow their legitimate campaign hijacked by hoodlums who may have another agenda.
Sanwo-Olu agreed with the demand of the protesters on reforms in the operations of law enforcement agencies, adding that the State Government would work with the police leadership on compensation for the family members of victims of SARS brutality in Lagos.