President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unfolded plans by his administration to prevent the reoccurrence of the #EndSARS protests, championed by activists campaigning against police brutality.
Briefing reporters after the quarterly National Security Council (NSC) meeting presided over by Buhari in the State House, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Maigari Dingyadi, said the president pledged to deploy every power at his disposal to ensure that a protest of that magnitude does not repeat itself in the country any longer.
The hitherto peaceful protests later degenerated into an orgy of violence, characterised by looting and burning of public and private assets, including police stations and killing of policemen, as hoodlums hijacked the civil unrest.
Dingyadi listed the president’s action plans against future protests of such magnitude to include ensuring that all stakeholders, including the youth, religious leaders and traditional rulers are involved in the process of peace maintenance in Nigeria.
Buhari also told the meeting that the federal government will continue to exhibit, what he described as bureaucratic and humane attitudes in addressing security matters in the country.
The minister said the president pledged that he will give whatever it requires to support security chiefs in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Dingyadi said: “In his concluding remarks, Mr. President thanked members (of NSC) for the efforts they are making in maintaining peace and assured members that he will do whatever it takes to support security agencies in providing peace in the country.
“Mr. President assured Nigerians that he will do whatever it takes to ensure the repeat of #EndSARS protests does not occur in Nigeria again. Mr. President reassured that all stakeholders will be involved in the process of maintaining peace in the country, particularly the youth, community leaders, traditional rulers, politicians, public servants, religious leaders et cetera.
“The federal government will continue to maintain its bureaucratic, humane and just postures in handling security matters in the country.”
Asked if he meant that the president would ensure a clampdown on #EndSARS protesters if they attempt to protest again, Dingyadi said the president meant that he would continue to engage citizens with a view to avoiding the level of destruction that accompanied the protests.
“On the issue of #EndSARS that you have raised, what we are saying is that government will continue to dialogue. It will continue to listen and will continue to carry all stakeholders along in ensuring that there is no repeat of what happened that destroyed a lot of properties – public and private individuals’ in this country,” he explained.
The minister added that the meeting, which was convened to brief Buhari on the security situation in the country also observed the increasing insecurity in the North.
According to him, the meeting resolved to be more proactive in handling security matters, adding that greater attention will be paid to police affairs, particularly in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He also said the meeting thanked the president for his concern about police affairs, which he said resulted in efforts to reposition the Nigeria Police Force.
“The National Security Council (NSC) was convened to brief Mr. President about the security situation in the country.
The meeting noted with concern the increasing cases of armed banditry particularly in the North-western and North-eastern part of the country. The meeting agreed to be more proactive in dealing with the situation in a more decisive manner.
“The meeting noted the need to pay greater attention to the police in the discharge of their functions to maintain peace in the country, in the areas of equipment and modern technology,” he said.
He added that the council had timelines and targets aimed at ending security threats, pledging that such targets would involve decisive and inclusive actions.
“It’s an all inclusive action that is going to be taken to ensure that in terms of technology, equipment, we can face these challenges head-on,” he said.
Responding to a question on whether the police have resumed to duties after they were displaced by hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS’ protest, Maigari said he told the council that contrary to general belief, the police are back to their duty posts.
He said the only difference is that police are not everywhere because the country has no capacity to ensure that they are everywhere.
However, he said notwithstanding, efforts are being made to protect lives and property.
“I informed the council that the police are very much on their duty posts unlike what people are saying. We receive daily situation reports from across the states and that is a good indicator that the police are very much at their duty posts. They are also on the road and they are working 24 hours.
“But I will agree with you when you say that police are not everywhere. We cannot be everywhere because of our number, equipment; but we are doing all we can to ensure that we cover as much as we can and to protect as many lives as we can to ensure that there is peace in this country,” he stated.
On the security situation on Abuja-Kaduna road, he said the police and the army were on a 24-hour joint patrol on the road, adding that the police also have their separate formations along the road.
“You see, once a small thing happens in a particular place like this Kaduna, we begin to talk about lack of security in that area. That place is being monitored 24 hours. There are police and the army who are on a kind of joint patrol on 24 hours’ basis. We also have our own separate police formation that is also on that road,” he said.
Present at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; ministers, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd.)(Defence), Mr. Rauf Aregbesola (Interior), Chief Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), and Mr. Maigari Dingyadi (Police Affairs), and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.).
Service chiefs in attendance at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar; Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu; Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Rufa’i; and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi.