… Directs students to stay at home
LAGOS State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has visited the widow of Mr. Okechukwu Iloamuazor, the driver hit by a stray bullet during last Monday’s EndSARS demonstration by youths in the Surulere area of the metropolis.
Governor Sanwo-Olu commiserated with the family over the incident, which he described as unfortunate. He said the late Iloamuazor should not have died under the circumstance, but assured the family members that the perpetrators would be brought to book.
He explained that already, all the four policemen who opened fire on the protesters in the Surulere axis of the state had been identified by the government and the police authorities, adding that the policemen are currently undergoing an orderly room trial at the Lagos state police command.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also said the state government would take the officers’ punishment beyond the established disciplinary guidelines of the police.
He reiterated that his administration remained on the side of those calling for a change in policing methods, adding that all those maimed or killed in Lagos in the course of the demonstration would be duly compensated, even as the state government would honour their sacrifices by pushing for reforms that would bring about a policing system that will uphold rights of the citizens.
Also, Lagos State Government has directed all students in public and private schools to stay at home following the tension generated by the #EndSARS protests.
A statement issued by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, emphasised that the safety of the pupils/students, parents and all staff working in schools is paramount at this critical period, advising parents to keep an eye on their wards and prevent them from being used as tools by those who might want to hijack the protests to unleash mayhem on the society.
Mrs. Adefisayo also encouraged schools to utilise other means of distance teaching and learning such as radio, television and online media similar to the practice during the closure occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The commissioner said that a new date for resumption of all classes will be announced in due course.
In a related development, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has again, appealed to the youths demonstrating against police brutality in the state to leave the roads and embrace the dialogue for the resolution of their agitations.
The governor said the state government had shown sincerity and willingness to address all concerns raised by the protesters, given the actions taken so far, including the constitution of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and setting up of compensation funds for the victims.
Sanwo-Olu made the appeal during the swearing-in of members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at the State House in Marina.
The governor’s appeal came on the heel of violent dimension assumed by the EndSARS protests in some parts of the state.
Reiterating his solidarity with the protesters’ demands, Sanwo-Olu said the pain expressed and concerns raised were genuine and legitimate. This, he said, prompted the federal and states’ governments to immediately acquiesce to some of the demands, while setting process in motion to implement others changes demanded.
The governor urged the protesters to be part of the process of implementing the reforms they clamoured for in the police, stressing that continuous blocking of roads, government and private offices would slow down the procedure of implementing their demands.
He said: “We have shown unprecedented commitment to the complete overhaul of the Nigerian Police. The inauguration of this Judicial Panel of Inquiry is only the first step in a long line of reformative actions that will lead to a thorough revamp and reorientation of the Nigeria Police. I believe that some of the actions we have taken should, to a large extent, show our sincerity and willingness to address all your concerns.
“Let me reiterate that I am on the side of the young people out there. I understand your pain and I know your concerns are genuine and legitimate. While we are able to immediately acquiesce to some of your demands, some others will require time. We ask you to bear with us as we dutifully work on your demands.
“I will, therefore, like to renew my appeal to you to suspend the protests and create an atmosphere for the resolution of all pending demands. I encourage everyone brutalised by the disbanded SARS, including the families of those who died, to present their case before this tribunal.”
Sanwo-Olu said he believed the task of reforming the police was achievable, but required the input and cooperation of the youth to accomplish task.
He commended the cohesiveness of the “resilient” young people who stood their ground in the last two weeks. Their tenacity, Sanwo-Olu said, has made the much-desired change in the policing system become inevitable.
Speaking about the judicial panel, the governor said he was convinced that its outcome and recommendations would open a new chapter in police-citizen relationship.
He promised that the state government would ensure that all wounds are healed, justice served to victims of abuse, and guilty police officers prosecuted.
At the time of the swearing-in of the panel members, the representatives of the youth in the panel had not been nominated by the protesters.
The State Government, last Friday, reached out to the protesters to forward the name of their nominees into the judicial panel. The protesters, however, pleaded for more time to send the names of their nominees, four days after the Government’s request.