Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, have called on #EndSARS protesters to leave the streets and give the government time to implement their demands.
The protesters had commenced demonstrations across the country demanding the dissolution of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) accused of brutality and extra-judicial killings. But the demonstrations did not cease after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, dissolved the notorious unit.
The protesters are now demanding total reformation of the police force and justice for victims of police brutality.
On Sunday, the leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the state house in Abuja.
Speaking with state house correspondents after the meeting, they both urged protesters to give the government time to implement the various demands and stop the demonstrations.
Lawan noted that the economy shouldn’t be grounded as a result of the protesters’ demonstrations.
“Very critical to mention at this point is that since the protests have taken place, and the issues have been accepted, the time has come for the protests to stop, because government needs to have sufficient time, a clement environment to implement the demands of the protesters,” he said.
“We also need to have our economy to continue to go on. When you try to stop everybody from engaging in their businesses, closing the roads to markets and other economic places, we distract the economy of the country, and that is not the best way to go.
“If the issues had not been accepted, then there would have been genuine reasons to continue with the demonstrations. But since the issues have been accepted, we should give government time to implement the issues.
“Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to appeal to our youth who are protesting, that the protests have already yielded the desired result.
“First of all, they said ‘end SARS’ — that was the beginning. SARS was ended, not by the IGP; SARS was ended by the president. President Muhammadu Buhari made a statement — a presidential statement, and that will be the first time that any president will say ‘end SARS’. And SARS has ended. The other issues followed.”
On his part, Gbajabiamila urged the protesters to leave the streets, adding that they may return if things do not take a positive turn after some weeks.
According to the speaker, he does not want the protesters to lose all what they have gained so far. He warned that refusing to halt the demonstrations could lead to such.
“We have met with the President and I can assure you that there is no bigger democrat than Mr President. He gave us a listening ear, the same that he always gives Nigerians,” Gbajabiamila said.
“He accepted absolutely everything that Nigerians asked for. I have heard the stories that we have heard ended SARS like four times before. That is what people are saying.
“Like I said, you have never heard it from Mr President, but now, he has said so. So, let us tarry a little while. Let us sit back. We have got what we want, let us sit back and see what happens. If you like, you begin your protests again if nothing happens in two weeks.
“Let us not continue this thing and lose the plot. That is what I don’t want… I don’t want our youths to lose the plot. They have done so well in terms of expressing their grievances and it is important we don’t get side-tracked.
“Of course, there are tangential issues that they have discussed after the EndSARS. We have spoken with Mr President and he is looking at everything.
“Some of these things are policy matters that are not going to happen overnight. You are not going to have electricity overnight; it is not going to happen tomorrow. Free road is not going to happen tomorrow.
“It is a process and the important thing is that the government has heard you loud and clear. It is a continuous engagement. We will be engaging our youths in matters of policy and communicate with Mr President as well on what needs to be done.
“So, again, let us not lose the plot, let us remain focused. Points have been made like never before in the history of Nigeria and that is kudos to the young men and women out there.
“My advice is that even if there is trust deficiency, let us, for whatever it is worth, trust government for what it has done now. It has ended SARS, nobody can argue that. SARS is ended completely, never to be heard anybody. We are talking about SWAT now.
“We interrogated the IGP about three days ago and we asked the question and he explained to us that in any security agency, particularly the police, if there is a special unit and you disband it, you don’t leave a vacuum. It is apparently a police code anywhere in the world that you don’t leave a vaccum, it has to be filled and that was why he came up with SWAT.
“Having come up with SWAT, the criteria, the engagement, the personnel, what they can do and what they cannot do, they are complete departure from what SARS was meant to operate.
“Let us remain focused and stay on track. Let us work with government. We are all on the same page. It is not you against us. We are all on one page and if we are on one page, we will get the desired result.”