Northern leaders, including state governors and traditional rulers, on Monday met in Kaduna, where they condemned #EndSARS protests.
Their positions on the protests were contained in a communiqué issued after the meeting and read by the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong.
In the communiqué, the northern leaders, who alleged that separatists hijacked the #EndSARS protests, said the demonstrators were targeting regime change.
Youths calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force began protests on October 8. The protests, which were held in major cities, lasted for two weeks.
But on Monday, northern leaders dismissed the protests as subversive, adding that they had separatist agenda.
Criticising the northern leaders, groups including the apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, insisted on restructuring.
Reading the communiqué issued by the northern leaders, Lalong stated, “The meeting rejects and condemns the subversive actions of the #EndSARS protests. The agitations and other change-regime actions outside the ballot box soon took advantage of the peaceful protests to push for their separatist agenda. The meeting endorses the indivisibility, indissolubility and oneness of the nation.”
The meeting was attended by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Also at the meeting were the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar lll, who led other traditional rulers to the parley, the governors of Gombe State, Inuwa Yahaya; Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule; Jigawa, Babadaru Abubakar; Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal, his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai; Bello Matawalle (Zamfara); Sani Bello ( Niger) and the deputy governors of Katsina, Kogi among others.
Lalong said the leaders appreciated the role of the traditional rulers in curtailing the #EndSARS protests from escalating in the North.
The Plateau State governor disclosed that the meeting noted the devastating effect of the uncontrolled social media in spreading fake news and called for major control mechanism and censorship of the social media practice in Nigeria
We must not allow destructive protests in Abuja — Northern leaders
He said the meeting emphasised the need to closely watch the Federal Capital Territory to “guard against unwarranted and destructive protests to safeguard critical assets of the nation.
“The meeting resolved that there is the need for regular meetings of this nature,” and called for further engagements with religious leaders, business community, youth leaders and other stakeholders.
According to him, the meeting approved the setting up of two major committees: the committee on roles of traditional rulers membership and the committee on the youth and civil society
He said the meeting called for a collective effort in addressing the lingering challenges of the North, especially Almajirinci system, insecurity, illiteracy and poverty.
Lalong said the meeting appreciated the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and his cabinet for “their quick intervention in meeting the demands of the #EndSARS protesters.”
He also said, “the forum also appreciated the role of the youth for their response to the #EndSARS, in curtailing the spread of hooliganism, thuggery and other separatist tendencies.”
Insecurity: let’s reconsider state police, says El-Rufai
Earlier, while welcoming his colleagues to the meeting, El-Rufai said it was high time Nigeria considered the establishment of state police, following the #EndSARS protests which rocked parts of the country.
Specifically, the governor said the recent happenings in the country provided an opportunity to redesign the security architecture between the states and the Federal Government.
He asked, “Is it not time to make the establishment of state police a key part of policing reforms?
“Has the recent crisis not exposed again the inadequacy of the numbers, ordnance, training and unitary structure of the police in a federation?”
“In our view, it is an understatement to describe the last few weeks as challenging moments for our country.
“A cry by the youth for reform of policing has somehow snowballed into tragic events and a challenge to the authority of the Nigerian state.”
Restructuring has started, northern leaders can’t stop it – Ohanaeze
Condemning the northern leaders, the acting Secretary General and National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, said that those trying to give #EndSARS protest against police brutality, extrajudicial killings and extortion, ethnic and sentimental colorations would fail completely.
He said that restructuring of Nigeria had already begun, noting that the “#EndSARS brouhaha is just the icing on the cake.”
Achi-okpaga said, “Just like the world went digital those who remained analogous were swept off by the digital wave.