Some youth leaders, social media influencers and non-governmental organisations have confirmed that the #EndSARS protests across the country were hijacked by politicians and anti-Nigeria forces to destabilise the nation.
The group, under the auspices of March4Nigeria movement, also vowed to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at a town hall meeting on Saturday in Abuja.
In a communique jointly signed by Olusegun Oloruntoba, Comrade Ibrahim Musa and Sunday Attah, its chairman, secretary and member respectively, the group said it drew its conclusion from participants who experienced significant violence and disruptions during the period.
According to the group, a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs financed the protests while renowned clergymen, social media influencers and celebrities incited the populace.
Contrary to reports, however, the youths said the Federal Government was “responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians”.
While urging the FG to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest, the group reaffirmed that there was no massacre anywhere in the country.
As part of its resolution, the youth appealed to the FG to actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed while also urging the #EndSARS protesters to halt the mass action.
Read full communique below:
Participants at the meeting recounted that Nigeria experienced significant violence and disruptions in October as a result of protests tagged #EndSARS by protesters. The protests originally began as demands for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force because of the serial cases of highhandedness, brutality and human right abuses by operatives of the unit. In response to a five-point demand from the protesters, which the government agreed to meet, SARS was disbanded with other measures being announced.
They recounted that the #EndSARS was subsequently highjacked by multiple interests that then continued to randomly shift the goalposts by altering the demands while also refusing to name representatives or leaders to dialogue with the government. It was noted that the refusal to name representatives or leaders for the protests was a red flag that should have alerted the Federal Government and the rest of the world to the dark intents of those that orchestrated crisis for Nigeria.
Participants revealed how the protests were well funded across multiple cities such that protesters were being transported to locations in addition to being fed with delicious and expensive meals. Those identified to have at various times financed the protests included: a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs. Incitement was done by renowned clergymen, social media influencers, opposition leaders and celebrities. The protesters became belligerent and began obstructing major roads to cause discomfort to Nigerians and sabotage the economy.
It was noted that under yet to be fully comprehended circumstances, pandemonium occasioned by reported gunshots at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos state on October 20, 2020, was used as ground zero for the start of industrial-scale arson, looting and killing of innocent persons. The incident was also used to kick off a major international offensive against the country to force international sanctions.
In the aftermath of the Lekki incident, security personnel have been targeted, attacked and killed in addition to the more than N250 billion in damages while the true economic toll is projected to be in the region of N3 trillion. The protesters continued to insist that Mr President must address them while accusing the government of not being responsive.
It was also found out that the mob was not mindless as previously thought. A fugitive terrorist and leader of the proscribed terrorist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu actively coordinated the attacks on businesses while the leaders of the hit squads reported back to him.
This orgy of arson took place even though the protesters were never able to substantiate their claim of a massacre. After a night of misplaced and misdirected outrage, the nation woke up the following day to not find any corpse even when the protesters had alleged that 78 persons were killed; Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwoolu confirmed there were no casualties from the pandemonium; one of the instigators, Enough is Enough (EiE), recanted its earlier claim that CCTV cameras were sabotaged before the incident as it admitted what was removed from the plaza were plate number cameras that the operator removed for safekeeping upon learning that protesters were going to vandalize the place; the billboard that was turned off as a matter of business decision and not on the directive of the state as protesters had alleged; the entire claim of Lekki Toll Plaza massacre was a hoax choreographed by one Obianuju Catherine Udeh (DJ Switch).
The global outrage was heightened by the deployment of fake news that included sharing of pictures from movies and presenting them as causalities from the protests, publication of pictures of accident causalities and claiming they died in the protests, re-circulation of old media and claiming the incidents portrayed in them happened in the protests. Local and international media have fallen for these fake news items, especially on their online and social media platforms, without having the courtesy to apologize and make corrections when they found out that they misled their audiences. Furthermore, there has been a deliberate blackout on reporting the atrocities of the protesters as they loot and commit arson – where there is any report they are conveniently explained away as hoodlums that infiltrated the protests.
Several nations: The United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the European Union and other countries have condemned Nigeria without getting the correct details of what transpired. The United Nations, African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International and other organizations have similarly erred. US politicians, Joe Bidden, Hilary Clinton, members of US Congress, members of the UK Parliament, foreign celebrities amongst others have made interventions without the benefit of facts. The ignorance on the part of the above-identified was exacerbated by the international media organizations, like the CNN, which threw away journalistic ethics to act as channels for purveying fake news.
President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation as a father. He has demonstrated that the government is saddened by the losses arising from the protests even as he confirmed that the demands of the protesters were already being met before the protests were hijacked by criminals. His speech assured that Nigeria will weather the storm. The many youth initiatives of his administration he revealed deserve to be supported and promoted.
After exhaustive deliberations on the observations made, participants noted that:
The protests were hijacked by hoodlums, which appears to be the original plans of the organizers, who had refused to identify leaders or representatives to dialogue with the government.
The protests were exploited by cyber terrorists, bandits and clout chaser on the internet, who leveraged the anonymity provided by online platforms to incite unsuspecting youth to attack their own country.
The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government was responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians.
There was no massacre anywhere in Nigeria; a massacre would have been there for everyone to see as opposed to the situation where the protesters resorted to revisionism in their desperation to make their claim pass integrity test in the face of lacking evidence.
Federal Government needs to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest with a few to identifying and dismantling the IPOB cells that were used to trigger mayhem in Lagos state.
Participants at the #March4Nigeria Town Hall Meeting resolved that:
March4Nigeria will actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed by the Federal Government and will make suggestions for modifications and expansions as may be necessary with an insistence that there must be timelines and milestones to ensure that the process is not stalled.
All protests relating to #EndSARS are suspended going forward while the youth embrace constructive engagements with the government to give time for the implementation of reforms. To ensure transparency, details of engagements with government will be shared real-time using the advantage of virtual platforms.