NIGERIA Guild of Editors (NGE) has appealed to the #EndSARS protesters to give the government benefit of the doubt by opting for dialogue, to avoid further escalation of the blood-letting and brigandage which some misguided miscreants have introduced to what started as a very peaceful exercise.
The body of editors made the appeal while reacting to the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters by security men in different parts of the country which it condemned in its entirety and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation to calm frayed nerves. “There is nothing wrong in actively engaging in dialogue with the aggrieved youths”.
Sympathising with victims of the shootings and their families, the Guild called for full scale investigation of Tuesday mayhem across the nation, especially the killings and injuries inflicted on protesters at the Lekki, Toll Plaza in Lagos, where security personnel shot and killed some unarmed protesters before the commencement of curfew at 9pm.
It noted that there was no need whatsoever for security personnel to use live bullets and demanded that those found culpable should be brought to justice, even as it is worried over the dramatic turn the #EndSARS peaceful protests have taken.
The body of editors welcomed the curfew imposed on some states following the apparent hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests by hoodlums and commends the efforts of these state governments to separate the wheat from the chaff.
While advising journalists to be security conscious this period, it observed that the restriction of movement in parts of the country does not give law enforcers any right to harass and intimidate persons on essential duties, especially journalists who are on the frontline in the discharge of their constitutional duty of gathering, processing and disseminating information, stating that it will not tolerate the harassment of such journalists. “They should be allowed unfettered access to places of interest to them as they strive under this atmosphere of insecurity to carry out their legitimate responsibilities”.
The Guild equally condemned the attacks on security personnel, their facilities, public infrastructure and private businesses and called on government to rein in the miscreants hiding under the #EndSARS protests to perpetrate mayhem on innocent Nigerians and commended the state governments that have set up panels of enquiry to investigate allegations of police brutality, especially the atrocities committed by operatives of the now- disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
“Government should take urgent steps to reform the entire security architecture of the nation.”
It equally urged the Nigerian government to show urgency and openness in meeting the demands of Nigerian youths.