The Nigerian Islamic human rights body, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has justified the action of Nigerian youths who participated in the #EndSARS protest which began two days ago.
But MURIC maintained that protesters should now disperse since the Federal Government has listened to them by disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which the youth accused of highhandedness.
However, the Muslim rights advocacy group cautioned hoodlums and politicians against hijacking the protest for their selfish and parochial agenda.
This was revealed in a statement circulated to the media by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 14th October, 2020.
The statement reads:
“We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemn the reported excesses of men of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS). We frown at the brutal killing of young Nigerians in the hands of the police and consider these as crimes against humanity. The harassment, intimidation and coercion of Nigerian youths by men of SARS constitute outright infringements on Allah-given fundamental rights of the victims. These actions by SARS are a gross violation of freedom of movement and association which are fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which the police swore to protect.
“MURIC therefore finds justification for Nigerian youths who participated in the #EndSARSprotests. Nonetheless, we condemn the action of a few protesters who employed violence. The attack on the palace of the Soun of Ogbomoso and the looting and destruction of parts of the palace are absolutely unjustifiable. We also appreciate the prompt action of the Federal Government and that of the Inspector General of Police who deemed it fit to disband SARS.
“We therefore appeal to protesters to disperse and go home. The organizers of the protest must take responsibility. There is no reason why #endSARS protest should metamorphose into any other demand or movement. Nigeria needs a completely peaceful atmosphere to recover from the bruises of COVID-19. This is why a large scale protest must be avoided at all cost. We note with grave concern the likely fallout of such a development as there could be a total breakdown of law and order leading to looting of properties and general chaos. Any attempt to prolong the protest after the disbandment of SARS is a clear invitation to anarchy.
“We call on the Nigerian Police to protect innocent Nigerians and to ensure that the protest is not hijacked by hoodlums. The police should equally employ minimum force in the process in order to avoid any loss of life.
“In particular, we warn politicians against hijacking the protest for selfish and parochial ends. Already, there are signs that politicians have warmed their way into the hearts of the protesters as there are reports of thousands of bottled water and snacks being bought and distributed to protesters. The uncertainty of the source of these offers make them suspicious.
“MURIC affirms that protests are legitimate tools of expressing dissent. But such protests must be peaceful and orderly. MURIC frowns at protests featuring marching through the streets and blocking traffic. Such protests cause more harm than good. For instance, a sick woman being conveyed to the hospital in Lekki, Lagos, reportedly died yesterday after the vehicle conveying her to the hospital was trapped in the traffic gridlock caused by the protest for three hours. We therefore advise the organisers of #EndSARS protests to call their followers off the streets in the interest of innocent and law-abiding people.
“We can call for reform but it will be irresponsible to block the roads until reform is carried out. Reform is a gradual process. It requires time. What the police authorities have to do is to change the modalities of training and retraining with special focus on civility, respect for human rights and zero tolerance for corruption. Protesters must however forget about prolonging this protest and turning it into a demand for any controversial political issue like restructuring, for example. It should be noted that there is no tabula rasa for restructuring and any form of good governance is restructuring.
“In our concluding remarks, we assert our reservations for the scrapping of SARS. Nature hates vacuum and FG must not allow this to happen. It is just paradoxical that the same Nigerians who complain about insecurity and insufficiency of police personnel in terms of numerical strength are the same people who rose against SARS. FG must tactically satisfy the yearning of protesters and simultaneously leave no security vacuum. It is a delicate act of balancing.”