A Coalition of 108 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other concerned peace and rights’ advocacy groups, has condemned in very strong terms the attempt to re-ignite the #EndSARS protest using Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, as a launch pad.
Specifically, the Coalition accused the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, of surreptitious attempts to resuscitate the rested #EndSARS protest platform, to blackmail the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
This was as the organisation maintained that the move was a potential threat to national security and public safety, considering the magnitude of hijacked of the recent protest by suspected hoodlums, who did not only loot warehouses, but also killed innocent citizens and destroyed both public and private property.
The group’s positions were a fallout of an emergency stakeholders meeting called to deliberate on Sunday’s unfortunate protest by Sowore and few of his cohorts in Abuja.
In a statement signed by Dr Tunde Aremu (National Cordinator), Barr Chimbuchi Akuabata (National Secretary), as well as Hajiya Hadiza Hamza (Coorditor, Women Support of the Coalition) respectively, the group described as unacceptable and repugnant the events at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAiA), and the Force Headquarters.
It argued that, apart from disturbing the free flow of traffic within and around Abuja, which has negative impact on the socio-economic activities of residents, Sowore’s plan is detrimental to attempts by government to address the fundamental issues raised by the original #EndSARS protesters.
Accordingly, the stakeholders have called on youths in Abuja in particular, and across the country in general, to reject and resist Sowore’s antics, especially against the backdrop of his antecedents and selfish interests.
Recall that Sowore had led what he considered was a “revolution” against the government, which had led to his arrest and ongoing trial for treason and other related offences before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Among other conditions for bail, trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, had restricted the activist’s movement to Abuja, and also barred him from addressing public gatherings.
Rising from the emergency meeting, said: “The Coalition of 128 NGOs, CSOs and CBOs met today after an emergency stakeholders’ meeting on the resurgence of a selfish group using the well-respected and coordinated #EndSARS platform to feather their sponsored political and selfish agenda to the detriment of national security and peace of Nigeria”.
The group upbraided the protesters who defacing the critical roads with ‘END SARS’ protest inscription.
It said Sowore should be taken for who he is: a personal hater of President Buhari, who had sought over time to blackmail the administration into patronizing him.
To underscore their position that Sowore is an enemy of state, the stakeholders said the publisher moved his family members outside the country, in order to deliberately further his evil agenda against the government.
The statement reads further: “We observed with great concern how one Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters, led some few Nigerians knowingly or unknowingly to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and Louis Edet House (Force Headquarters),all in Abuja using the #EndSARS platform.
“While at the places, Sowore and his members scrupulously inscripted the #EndSARS on a major road, even when it was glaringly clear what he stands for.
“Nigerians have already known Sowore’s antics, which is to blackmail government for some condition or conditions.
“We, however, wish to set the records straight for those who may not know the person of Sowore: He is an enemy of the state. Sowore prepared himself prior to his resolve to be so.
“That was why he moved his family abroad, specifically in the United States of America (US), where they live now as citizens there. Yes,his wife and children leave outside Nigeria and are citizens of America, hence cannot be affected by any destruction or war in Nigeria.
“Most of his accomplices don’t have stakes in Nigeria. A careful review of the pictures of most of the people making inciting statements on social media and instigating youths in Nigeria against authorities, don’t live here; they operate from outside the country”.
In the group’s estimation: “Their main grouse against President Muhammadu Buhari is that the president blocked almost all sources of corruption and free money where they used to benefit from”.
It stated further: “Realising that their sources of illicit income had been blocked, they are doing everything possible to pull the government down.
“We call on Nigerian youths to be circumspect this time around, and not fall prey to the antics of Mr Sowore, who is out to destroy our country.
“We must realise that if we destroy Nigeria, we would have done ourselves so much wrong.
“We advise those who are uncomfortable with the president and his administration to wait until 2023, to use their voters cards in removing him democratically through numerical strength”.
Meanwhile, the Coalition reiterated its earlier support for the demands of the original #EndSARS protesters, whose agitations, they insisted, remain genuine and responsible, to say the least.
It expressed confidence in the capacity of state governments – through the Judicial Commissions of Inquiry – to do justice to the cases of extra-judicial killings, brutality, extortion and other crimes committed against the citizenry by the now-disbanded SARS.