Catholic bishop, CSOs warns FG against deploying army to protest grounds

Catholic bishop, CSOs warns FG against deploying army to protest grounds

Alfred Adewale Martins, archbishop of Lagos, has called on the federal government not to deploy the Nigerian army to crack down on #EndSARS proteste

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Alfred Adewale Martins, archbishop of Lagos, has called on the federal government not to deploy the Nigerian army to crack down on #EndSARS protesters across the country.

The army had declared its readiness to support other security agencies in the country to maintain law and order.

However, in a statement on Friday, Martins said if the army is deployed to protest grounds, it will lead to injuries and deaths, as well as escalate tension.
“Such a measure, if adopted, can only lead to injuries and possible deaths, and an escalation of the protests. It has the tendency of turning the largely peaceful protests into a violent one,” he said.

“We therefore urge the federal government to toe the line of engagement in dialogue, listening to the demands of the youth and other well-meaning Nigerians. We commend the government for acceding to the demands of the youth. Now, the whole country looks forward to practical steps that would be taken to implement them.

“We believe that a sincere and transparent response to the demands of the young people would go a long way in resolving the present impasse.”

He called on those protesting to ensure their activities are done peacefully and to avoid engaging in violence, as “the whole world is watching us to see how we handle this situation.”

Also, a coalition of civil society organisations has described the Nigerian Army’s reaction to the #EndSARS protesters as a “dangerous violation of citizens’ right”.

In a statement on Friday, the coalition made up of 14 CSOs, said the #EndSARS protest is an affirmation of citizen’s readiness to resist bad governance. It said the ongoing protest to end police brutality is legitimate and must be protected.

The coalition condemned the “thinly veiled threat” issued by the army, saying it is “ill-conceived in the face of legitimate citizens’ protest and a threat to constitutionally guaranteed rights”.

“While #EndSARS is focused on the immediate concern of a brutish policing system, the protesters are also inherently voicing their anger against a governance system, which has failed to reckon with them,” the statement read.

“The accumulated anger of citizens over decades of failure in the delivery of basic social services, endemic corruption, and impunity of political office holders has precipitated distrust of, and lack of confidence in the state and its institutions. In this respect, we strongly condemn the thinly veiled threat issued by the Military High Command, wherein the unacceptable move is being made to crush the peaceful protests.

“We call on the military to immediately withdraw its ill-advised attempt to undermine the constitutional freedom of citizens to voice their displeasure about the state of the country. The Military should remain in their barracks and at their duty posts, defending the territorial integrity of the country, and not deployed in a dangerous anti-people and anti-democratic operation to crush a people who are exercising their right to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”

Reminding the Nigerian authorities that the entire world is watching its response to the demands of the youth, it said the “illegal bans” on protests “constitute an ominous prelude to what we suspect would be a harsh clampdown on citizens”.