Buhari Says to International Community: ‘Verify your facts’
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has urged neighbouring countries and the international community to “seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment and making hasty pronouncements” on the situations in the country.
President Buhari made this appeal in a national broadcast Thursday night, obviously reacting to the condemnations that followed the Lekki Toll Gate incident of Tuesday.
The United Nations, European Union, former U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden and the former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Amnesty International and many others had condemned the escalation of violence that trailed the #EndSARS protests across the country, resulting in killings and destruction of properties.
Most of them had asked the Nigerian authorities to investigate these incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Amnesty International actually claimed it confirmed that the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police were responsible for the night shootings that killed many, saying the authorities in Nigeria deliberately intended to kill its citizens in extrajudicial manners.
The president had been repeatedly asked to address the nation on recent developments in the country, especially the unrests that had trailed the #EndSARS protests across the country and the widely reported and condemned Lekki Toll Gate shooting that many said was ordered by the federal government.
The president in his speech reacted by warning against spreading falsehood and misinformation through social media, saying he had on Monday, October 12, 2020, acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.
He however failed to give any fact relating to the shootings at Lekki Toll Gate which was the target of condemnations by the international community.
No government agency has so far come out to provide any information on who was responsible for the killings.
But the president said “This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.
“The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.
“As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters.
“And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
“Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised…
“All these executed in the name of the #EndSARS protests.
“I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost.
“These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.
“Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country,” he said.