The Federal Government says the #EndSARS protest has been hijacked by hoodlums and people with the ulterior motive to destabilise the country and bring down the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Sunday when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said the Federal Government had met the demands of the group and implementing them.
Having met the demands, he said it was absurd that protesters were remaining on the streets causing mayhem, obstructing movements, and inflicting pains on Nigerians.
“When you look at the demands of the #EndSARS and the decisions of the Federal Government, it is clear that there is no single demand of the group that has not been met.
“Therefore, one will begin to ask if there is an ulterior motive because what we have witnessed in the last few days is that they have moved their demands from five to seven.
“As soon as the government approved one demand another one will follow.
“From the five demands which were initially tabled and have been addressed, they are now including petrol price, national assembly salaries, and allowances, electricity tariff among others.
‘Then you begin to ask yourself what exactly is the motive of the protests and who are those behind them,” he said.
According to the minister, it is more nauseating that the protest has gone violent, claiming lives and causing injuries as well as destruction to property.
He said Saturday’s assassination attempt on Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun who came out to identify with the protesters and address them was a clear indication that the protest had been hijacked.
Mohammed said the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, was equally turned back on the road by the protesters in Abuja.
“Peaceful protest is synonymous with democratic tenets and to that extent, we see the EndSARS protest as the manifestation of how far our democracy has developed
” Regrettably, the protest has been hijacked by hoodlums and by people with ulterior motives bent at destabilising the country.
“As of today, many people in many parts of the country simply cannot go out because people are being intimidated and roads have been blocked.
“There was a report of a pregnant woman that died inside the ambulance simply because she could not get to the hospital because of the protesters.
“This cannot be allowed to continue because where your right stops another person’s rights begin.
‘While the government will continue to engage, no responsible government will fold its arms and allow the state to be thrown into anarchy,” he said.
NAN reports that the #EndSARS group has been protesting what it calls police brutality.
The protesters at inception came with five demands including that all arrested protesters are released and justice be given to deceased victims of SARS including compensation to their families.
They equally demanded that there should be an independent committee to oversee the investigations and prosecution of any member of SARS found guilty of extrajudicial killings.
They demanded that all personnel of the disbanded SARS undergo a psychological and medical evaluation as well as retraining before they should be redeployed to other services of the police.
The protesters also demanded that the salary of the police should be increased in a manner that will be adequately compensated for protecting the lives and property of citizens.
In meeting the demands of the protesters, the minister said on Oct. 11, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) dissolved SARS across the 36 state Police Command and the FCT.
He said the president on Oct. 12 addressed the nation, stating that the disbanding of SARS was a first step in the comprehensive reform of the police.
Mohammed said that On Oct. 13, the IGP ordered all defunct SARS personnel to report at Force Headquarters in Abuja for debriefing as well as psychological and mental examinations.
On the same day, the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS accepted the five-point demand of the protesters.
He said the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by the Vice President with the 36 state governors and FCT Minister as members met on Oct. 15 and directed the immediate establishment of state-based Judicial Panels of Enquiry across the country.
The panels as directed by the Council are to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality and related extra-judicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other Police units.
The NEC also directed governors to immediately establish state-based special security and human rights committee to be chaired by the governor in each state.
The committee is to ensure the protection of human rights while members will include representatives of the youths, civil society groups, and the head of the Police Tactical Unit in the state.
The governors are also to supervise the newly formed Police Tactical Unit and other security agencies located in states.
The NEC also mandated every governor to take control and initiate dialogue with the protesters in their states and the FCT.
The Council directed governors to set up a victim support fund so that those who have been victims of SARS brutality will be compensated.
The minister said states, including Ogun, had begun to implement the decisions of NEC.
Specifically, he said the Ogun government had set up an investigative panel of inquiry, a special security and human rights committee as well as a victim’s support fund.