The Defend Lagos Coalition has urged organisers of the planned #EndSARS anniversary protest to have a rethink.
The coalition, made up of concerned civil society groups in Lagos State also said that such protest would be hijacked again by hoodlums to unleash mayhem on Nigerians and residents of the state.
Addressing Newsmen in Lagos on Thursday, Mr Nelson Ekujumi, spokesman for the coalition, said there was need for rethink, considering the losses incurred by Nigerians in 2020 when a similar protest was hijacked by hoodlums.
“As some group of persons and interests contemplate commemorating the anniversary of the #EndSARS protests with another protest, it is our conviction that such an anniversary ought to be a moment for sober reflection on the whole essence of the 2020 protest.
“While we recognise the inalienable rights of citizens to ventilate their grievances, we must admonish that it must be exercised with recognition of the fact that other persons’ right must not be infringed upon in the process.
”In the EndSARS protests of October 2020 that blew across the country, though an agitation against impunity and lack of accountability in public office encapsulated in the activities of the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), at the end of the day, it left a sour taste and sorrow in our hearts.
“The needless killings, looting, destruction of public and private assets that trailed it, most particularly in Lagos state which was the hardest hit, is an experience we will not wish to have again,” he said.
Ekujumi said that in the aftermath of the destruction during the protest, psychological trauma was also inflicted on people of Lagos state.
“We look backwards with pain and anguish over the unwarranted destruction of lives and property.
”Our major concern is lives and property of Nigerians. We are aware that the uncoordinated EndSARS protest led to anarchy.
“Assumed leaders of the protest lost their grip on the protesters which led to lawlessness.
”We will never again allow anyone or group of persons to destroy the Lagos state heritage,” he said.
He noted that at this stage, people should be asking questions regarding the panels set up after the protests.
“In obeisance to the government acceding to the five for five demands of the EndSARSs protests, state governments were directed by the National Economic Council (NEC) to set up panels of inquiry on the alleged abuses of citizens’ rights and where possible, award compensation and make recommendations
”These panels has been sitting nationwide. In Lagos state, the panel has sat for about one year and we have confidence in their ability to dispense justice in a fair and just manner just as it has already done with cases decided
“Therefore we need to decipher if the motive that propelled the genuine agitations of the 2020 EndSARS protest before it was hijacked, was not lost on Nigeria police, government and society at large and proffer the way forward,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Razaq Oladosu – Democratic Initiator, Mr Declan Ihekaire– Coordinator, Activists for Good Governance were at the event.
Others were Mr Elijah Ajanu-Ojo– Ideal Society Move and Mr Gbenga Soloki – Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Groups (COSEG) among others.