#ENDSARS: The Imperative of Sanctioning the Saboteurs
In amplifying the repercussions of actions, there is an African proverb that says, “Any dead fish can flow down the river, but it takes a live one to swim back up stream”.
By now, we all should be familiar with what happened under the infamous #ENDSARS protests. What we may not all be too familiar with is, the repercussion, or likely consequences of the actions of the actors.
Last week, while featuring on a programme on Channels Television, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesperson said, those who promoted the #EndSARS protest and allowed it degenerate into chaos must be made to face the law.
But because they know the consequences, the cowards are doing everything to frustrate that. Earlier on, a federal high court in Abuja had granted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s request to freeze the bank accounts of 19 individuals, including that of a public affairs company linked to the protests. As a result of this, the Nigerian Immigration Service was quick to seize the passport of one Modupe Odele, who was stopped from travelling out of the country. The aim of course, is to make those behind the protests or atrocities face the consequences.
Although the actual figures of the losses suffered by the Nigerian economy are yet to be ascertained, especially if we take into account the battered state of the economy, that is struggling to breathe after the COVID-19 pandemic, every part of the country is crying from the effects of the unprovoked attacks, vandalization and the looting of properties that followed the protests, with Lagos, the economic hub of the nation, claiming to be the worst hit.
According to the state, its estimates have revealed damages exceeding N1 trillion. Those behind these criminalities must be made to bear the consequences of their misdeeds.
It was Richard Eyre, the popular English theatre and television director that says, “Every action has a consequence, so always try to be good”. Yes, always try to be good, because doing otherwise, could attract an unpalatable consequence. In action, execution and mission, the #ENDSARS# protests were designed to annihilate the government of Muhammadu Buhari, and the planners were well armed. It is imperative for the government to treat the perpetrators as saboteurs and sanction them accordingly. Anything to the contrary, may embolden other people with similar sinister motive, or even give way to legitimizing anarchy.
We may recall with nostalgia, the celebrated Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, otherwise called the Oputa Panel, where former Minister of Works and Housing, late Major General Abdulkarim Adisa, told the world that, his understanding and interpretation of the four-point demand that was to be made on the then Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, was that a coup was in the making. Gen. Adisa said, asking the Head of State to carry out certain actions, which he was not willing to do at that particular point in time was tantamount to wanting to take over from him. What if Abacha refused? The only way out was to force him to accept, which meant, taking over from him, albeit by force.
If we draw an analogy between the military four point demands of the Generals, with the five points demand of the #EndSARS promoters, we are likely to arrive at the same destination with what late Adisa had in mind, i.e. to topple the government. Especially if the President were to refuse accepting the demands.
Like the four points demand of the Generals, the #EndSARS promoters put forward a five points demand to the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, viz:
- The Immediate release of all arrested protesters.
- Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensations for their families.
- Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reported police misconduct within a period of 10 days.
- Carrying out psychological evaluation and retaining of all disbanded SARS operatives before they can be deployed. And
- The government should increase police salary and they should be adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of the citizens.
While one can see the clear contradiction between demand number 5 and the aggressive hostility of the protesters against the police, yet, without questioning the rationale behind these demands, which seem clearly orchestrated by people of questionable character and career, who leveraged on the killing of a young man in Delta state and the brutalisation of another person in Lagos, to engineer an unprecedented national unrest, the Government quickly accepted them all, and set in motion a Presidential panel to commence action on the modalities for implementation.
Without waiting to see the outcome and plans of the government on these demands, the promoters changed the slogan, from ENDSARS to CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT, under the falsehood of ASKING FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE. This is where the hidden agenda became very visible. They added in their demands, the need for Buhari to step down. What they were not courageous enough to say, is step down for who?
If the planners of the failed coup are cowards, who cannot swim back because they are dead fishes, the government must not be seen to be so. It must hasten the process of prosecution, so that the saboteurs can be severely sanctioned.
Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja.
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