By Ayodele Adesanmi
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Sunday disclosed that he would join other good intentioned Nigerians to take the youths #EndSARS agitation serious, saying he had been a victim of police brutality in the past.
However the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari would listen and implement all the demands made by the youths during the #EndSARS protest.
The governor spoke during an interactive session held by stakeholders on the recent #EndSARS protest that resonated across the country.
He said the case of police brutality was one issue that affects every facet of the society, revealing that he was a victim of police brutality in 2014 while seeking reelection.
Gov. Fayemi, who was defeated in the June 21, 2014 election by his predecessor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had prior to the election allegedly been tear-gassed by a team police operatives at Mugbagba area of Ado Ekiti, while some APC governors were prevented from entering the state to campaign for him having been allegedly stopped by security agencies at the borders.
He described the youths as the engine room of the nation’s economy, stating that there was need for government at all levels to partner the youths for sustainable peace and development.
According to him, “the #EndSARS protest was a noble cause. It was supported here in Ekiti not because of those involved, but for the reason behind the action which we believe would help the police to do their job better.
“The youth protest in Ekiti was well- intentioned and peaceful. The right to peaceful protest is an inalienable right.
For the first time, we have panel of inquiry at every level of government to tackle our issues. We must not resort to violence as a solution to our agitations.
We must all speak in unison against violence as we did in unison against police brutality.
“Our youths are angry because as they were coming out of closure of schools over the coronavirus pandemic, they entered into ASUU strike; then there is hunger in the land and the harsh economic situation in our country.
“The government has done many intervention programmes and had proscribed SARS and introduced youth investment fund and many others as a response to the youth agitations.
“I commiserate with the families of those who paid the supreme price. We identify with them.
The panels that we set up will look into the reasons behind the protest and how best to address the issues raised because #EndSARS protest had placed a moral burden on all of us that we must be vigilant.
“I am a victim of police brutality myself. You could all recall what happened to me during my election of 2014.
But, some policemen had also rendered good services to me, so not all of them are bad.
“Our police must be motivated to do well. Policemen must be well remunerated. There must be good motivation for the police to be able to discharge their duties effectively.”
Also, the Trade and Investment Minister, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo in reassuring the youths that President Buhari will implement all the issues raised by them said: “The purpose why we are here today, is that all the ministers working under President Buhari got a presidential order to hold interactions with the people.
Mr. President listens to people. He wanted to use this interaction to feel the pulse of all Nigerians.
“We appreciate Governor Fayemi for setting us a panel to inquire about police brutality and other issues that are connected.
As your representative at FEC, I will continue to do my best to represent Ekiti State well.” He advised the youths to always apply for any youth oriented programme being rolled out by the Federal Government and stop having the erroneous impression that they won’t be enlisted as beneficiaries.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 17, comprising Ondo and Ekiti States, Mr. David Folawiyo, said the #EndSARS protest had actually exhumed fundamental issues indicative of the rot in the system.
“Ultimate power belongs to the masses, especially the youths. The #EndSARS agitations didn’t state that the police were bad, but they said the SARS operatives were bad.
We agreed that there were bad eggs in the SARS, but in most cases people were the ones requesting for SARS services. “We know that we have to restructure the police and that will be done.
But, we should all work together to make the police effective. We should all be patriotic and once we have this spirit, there won’t be SARS again.
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The police must be well- equipped and ultimately, we must all collaborate to end SARS,” he added.
Also, the state Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Mr. Eyitayo Fabunmi, called for the total reform of the police, so that they can be more professional and civil in the discharge of their duties.