#EndSARS anniversary: NEC canvasses alternative means of engagement

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The National Economic Council (NEC) has advised those planning public protests to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.

NEC, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, made this resolution on Friday after a virtual meeting anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

NEC had, in the wake of EndSARS protests in 2020, directed the immediate establishment of state-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings.

The panels were aimed at delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) and other Police tactical units.

In recent days, there has been mobilisation on social media to mark the anniversary of the protests.

“While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, NEC strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.

“This is because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues.

“Council, therefore, urges the organisers to reconsider their plan.”

NEC also listed the various actions already taken by federal and state governments to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests to include the disbandment of SARS.

Others included broad Police reforms and establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies.

According to NEC, the recommendations of panels  are already at various stages of implementation.

“They include the setup of Victims Compensation Funds from which several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels, and the prosecution of Police personnel indicted by the panels.

“These are commendable actions that ought to be taken to a logical conclusion in a peaceful atmosphere.

“Organisers of the planned protests should explore the various channels of communication with governments at various levels to advance their positions and avert the breakdown of law and order that may result from such public protests,’’ the council said.

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