The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech addressing the #EndSARS protests did not meet the expectation of most Nigerians.
President Buhari had in his broadcast on Thursday failed to address issues surrounding the #EndSARS protests. It was the first time he addressed Nigerians since the protests started.
Dozens of people, including protesters and police officers, have been killed in the violence that has resulted from the protests in many states.
In the last two weeks, thousands of Nigerian youth have taken to the streets to express their grievances.
The peaceful protest has yielded results with the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and setting up a judicial panel of inquiry by various state governments.
However, at least 16 persons have died since the beginning of the protest against police brutality. These include civilians and the police.
The worst of the incidents happened in Lekki, Lagos State, where protesters were shot with live bullets by the military personnel in a bid to disperse them.
In a statement signed by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, the caucus expressed surprise that the President did not address the wanton killings.
“As representatives of the people, our caucus is particularly surprised that Mr. President’s speech did not find a space to address the killing of innocent and unarmed Nigerian youths at the Lekki Toll gate; the very development that sparked off violent restiveness across the nation and consequent widespread demand for a presidential address,” the statement read.
The minority caucus said it expected the address by the president to come with some empathy for victims of the killings and those of other acts of brutality by unscrupulous security operatives, particularly at this time when reassuring words from the president would have gone a long way to calm frayed nerves.
“Indeed, the expectation across the country was for Mr. President to reassure Nigerians, especially the youths by forcefully condemning the killing and brutalization of our young ones, announcing an accelerated independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the gruesome acts and setting a clear pathway for the much-needed overhaul of our security system.
“The much desired national healing, peace, unity and stability of our nation anchor on such show of concern and commitment by leaders.
“As lawmakers, our caucus therefore urges President Buhari, as the father of the nation, to take further steps to realign with the expectations of Nigerians and reassure the nation by immediately setting up an independent inquiry into these killings with a view to prosecuting and bringing the perpetrators to book,” it said.
“This is in addition to an inquiry into videos and reports that unscrupulous security operatives mobilized thugs to attack peaceful protesters and unleash violence on innocent Nigerians.”
The lawmakers stated that those behind such shameful acts that escalated sectional hostilities and pitched citizens against one another should be brought to book.
“The minority caucus once more urges President Buhari to urgently rejig the nation’s security architecture by replacing his service chiefs with more competent and professional hands to assist in effectively handling the security challenges confronting the nation,” the caucus said.
“Mr. President is further urged to take urgent steps to accelerate action on his economic reforms so as to provide ample opportunities for our youths to gainfully participate in our productive sectors and ameliorate the hardship, hunger and frustration in the land.
“The minority caucus notes that history beckons and that the unity, stability, peaceful co-existence and general wellbeing of citizens in our country should be paramount to all, at this point in our national life.”
The caucus commiserated with the families of victims of what it described as “unfortunate development”, while suing for calm across the country and urging for a collective action that will engender a united and peaceful Nigeria for the good of all.