BusinessDay

Sanwo-Olu responds to #EndSARS report, calls for harmony

…says actions will be guided by weight of evidence

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu says Lagos deserves true healing from the scars of the October 2020 #EndSARS protests, calling on all stakeholders, in wake of the judicial panel report, to give peace a chance and seek harmony.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, in a live broadcast from the State House, Alausa, Tuesday, stated the state government’s position on the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on EndSARS recently submitted to him.

“Our decisions and actions will be based entirely on the law, the weight of evidence, and unblemished respect for the truth,” Sanwo-Olu said.

According to the governor, Lagos is currently faced with the hard choice of restoring harmony or doing itself great harm, noting it was high time the residents joined hands with his administration to put the state on the path of peace.

Hence, the need for ‘A Walk for Peace’ in December to be led by him and join by the youths, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, students, media, and other stakeholders.

“Lagos State deserves true healing after the disturbances that trailed last year’s protests against police brutality, and only sustenance of harmony can guarantee the realisation of aspirations of all residents,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He called on the residents to reject those fuelling anarchy and suspicion, clinging to the unsubstantiated belief that carried no weight of verifiable evidence, while choosing emotion over facts, as his administration is ready to facilitate better communication between the youths and the state’s security machinery to resolve issues before they become uncontrollable.

The governor gave a special invitation to artistes, including Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr. Marcaroni), Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalinks), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu and others to join him in the peace walk.

“Nobody will build this city for us. Let us show the world who we are. We are Lagosians. A people of great renown driven by the irrepressible spirit of Lagos. It is a testimony to our strength and resilience as a people that, despite the huge losses incurred because of these terrible incidents, we have bounced back, with our economy as vibrant and virile as ever. I have no doubt whatsoever that our prospects are as bright as ever and the best lies ahead of Lagos State and Nigeria,” Sanwo-Olu said.

In compensation to all those who lost their homes, businesses, and livelihoods to the violent destruction of the EndSARS protests, Lagos state government shall also establish a detailed procedure for the just compensation of citizens with verified claims of police brutality committed during the protests.

Speaking further on the events that followed the protests, especially the hijack by hoodlums, which led to the destruction of public and private property worth billions of naira, the governor said the government, the youths, protesters, the police, and other security agencies have learnt the appropriate lessons, particularly the Lekki Tollgate incident, with a view to averting any recurrence to the detriment of the state.

And on the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, the governor reaffirmed his commitment to the process that would bring closure to a painful episode in the history of the state. And according to him, the much-expected White Paper will be issued later in the day.

The panel which was originally inaugurated to investigate allegations of police brutality committed by the disbanded SARS and in the aftermath of what happened on October 20, 2020, was expanded to include investigating what happened at the Lekki Tollgate that night.

“As a matter of good faith and a sincere commitment to uncovering the truth, we constituted a panel of individuals that we believed were independent, credible, and representative of the various stakeholder communities interested in the movement against police brutality with various stakeholders, including representatives from the youths, #EndSARS protesters, the police and civil society groups,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor commended the panel for undertaking its task to the best of its abilities but, however, regrettable that the leakage of an unauthorised version of the report has generated much tension.

“The heated exchanges among various shades of opinion on the report have unfortunately put us all at the risk of missing the larger picture; the fact that what we all seek in common is a land in which we are all safe and secure, law enforcement agents are trusted, and justice is guaranteed for all. Our decisions and actions will be based entirely on the law, the weight of evidence, and unblemished respect for the truth,” Sanwo-Olu said.

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