Politics

Don’t politicize ongoing #EndSARS protests, CSOs caution Northern elites

Patrick Okohue

Access Bank

A group of 16 Civil Society Organizations has called on the political elites across the country not to politicize the ongoing #EndSARS campaign by turning it into opportunity to make unrealistic demands.

Warning against such at a media chat, the group said it views the call by a fraction of the Northern Elders and some  politicians, for the sack of Service Chiefs in the wake of the recent nationwide protests by some young Nigerians, demanding an end to the extra judicial killings of the Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS, of the Nigerian Police and an end, to police Brutality in the country as uncharitable.

Speaking on behalf of the group at the briefing held at the International Press Centre (IPC), the National Coordinator, Campaign Against Impunity in Nigeria, Shina Loremikun said making such demands in the midst of the ongoing protest smacks of bringing politics to bear on an otherwise genuine demands of the youths.

He said: “We view the latest call, as another highly partisan position and a clear attempt at politicizing an otherwise unfortunate situation, a moment that demands national cohesion. The present moment, judging by the events of the past few weeks, which has witnessed series of attack on Nigeria’s territorial integrity and successful resistance by our armed forces, particularly the Nigerian army, ordinarily should attract concerns and sympathy rather than this politically motivated call.

“We wonder why these so called elders and their collaborating politicians are choosing a youth protest against the conduct of the Police, to make the selfish demand while the people of the North East and other critical stakeholders are working with government stakeholders, to find an enduring end to insurgency and other criminalities in the country.

“Furthermore, we view this call as an attempt at demoralizing the nation’s armed forces and its leadership who are currently engaged in tackling series of insurgencies and internal security challenges, many of which are politically motivated, by some self-serving politicians and their sympathizers.

“We are really dismayed, over the inability of these elders, to acknowledge the efforts and landmark achievements that have been made by the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency, and other form of banditry across the nation, over the past few month.

“The call for the removal of Service Chiefs at this defining moment in our history leaves much to be desired. Let’s not forget that the Boko Haram insurgents are lurking around waiting to strike. If we lowered our guard by acceding to the call of those who want the Service Chiefs removed, it may spell doom.

“The senator representing Borno North, Ali Ndume, has said times without number that the military lacks the required and modern equipment needed to prosecute the war against the insurgents. He also explained that the budget of the army is inadequate. He also talks about the manpower. The military is overstretched already. Sen Ndume is the chairman of senate committee on the Army. So he’s conversant with the plight of the Nigerian army. What of motivation? The army budget is too small compared to other countries that are not even facing Nigerian situation (fighting insurgency, banditry, cattle rustling & kidnapping) on the continent.

“If we are reforming the police which is the standing force for the internal security and calling for the sack of Service Chiefs at the same time. Is that not anarchy? We have to be careful here not to play into the hands of those who want to wreck the ship of the defense of the country. The army is already overstretched, if we allow fifth columnist and agent of destabilization to have their way, it may spell doom for the country,” he said.

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