The National Economic Council (NEC) has cautioned against staging a protest to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS campaign.
In October 2020, Nigerians came out to express their grievances against the now-disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
According to a statement issued on Friday, the NEC noted that the plan might be hijacked by armed hoodlums and other “opportunistic criminals, thereby defeating the purpose of the anniversary protests ”.
“While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council strongly advise those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement,” the statement reads.
“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.”
The council also listed various steps already taken by federal and state governments to resolve the grievances that caused the 2020 protests.
Such actions, according to NEC, include “broad police reforms, the establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria police force and other security agencies”.
The council said the recommendations of panels are already at various stages of implementation, including the setup of victims’ compensation funds.
“These are commendable actions that ought to be taken to a logical conclusion in a peaceful atmosphere,” the council said.
“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.”