President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the wrongful use and imposition of brutality against Nigerians, especially the innocent youth.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammad Bello said this while addressing the security agencies during the maiden National Youth Day celebration, observed on November 1st and which coincided with the African Youth Day celebration at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He urged the security agencies to take it easy on Nigerians especially the youth in what he described “I cannot lift my hands to stop or suppress the youth in the country.”
In line with the recent protests against police brutality in the country, leading to the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Minister told the gathering that the pleas of Nigerian youth had been heard by the government.
According the Minister, “No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.”
He added that, to allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
He, however, urged the youth to end their street protests, sheathe their swords, embrace peaceful means and not to be afraid to negotiate with government at the dialogue table to produce meaningful discussions aimed at comprehensive reforms to end all forms of police brutality against Nigerians.
The Minister assured the gathering of government’s readiness to hear concrete and practical ideas from the youth, while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.