ABEOKUTA – As part of effort to curtail escalated cases of ongoing protests across the country against the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state has ordered immediate closure of all schools in the state, beginning from Wednesday 21st October, 2020 until Monday 26th October, 2020.
The governor also declared suspension of motorcycle operations popularly known as Okada in the state for Wednesday 21st October, 2020 in the first instance, just as he ordered deployment of joint patrol teams of security agencies to ensure no threat to public security as well as preventing blockade of highways and molestation of innocent citizens going about their lawful businesses.
Speaking at Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan in Abeokuta on the #EndSARS Protests on Tuesday night, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state declared that the prevailing situation in the country had warranted specific stringent measures to be taken by the government as the #EndSARS protests across the country is already taking a violent and gory dimension which needs an urgent government action.
He said, “In response to these demands, following actions were taken. As mentioned earlier, all those arrested in Ogun State in connection with the protest have been released. Indeed, there is no one in detention in whatever form in the State, thus effectively addressing the first of the demand.
“Furthermore, the SARS unit of the Police, the central object of the protest, has been disbanded, even ahead of the demand for that by the protesters. And it is important to emphasise that unlike on previous occasions when SARS was purportedly banned, the final nail on the coffin of the ban on SARS was pronounced by no less a person than President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) convened an emergency meeting on Thursday 15th October with the issue of #EndSARS protest as the main agenda. The meeting agreed on five main points, amongst others, which are:
✓ Each State Governor to take charge of interaction with the protesters in the respective state.
✓ Setting up of Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate all cases of abuse in the state with a view to bring erring security agents to books and compensating the victims.
✓ Setting up of funds to compensate the victims.
✓ Setting up of Special Security and Human Rights Committee.
✓ Setting up of a Human Rights Complaint office with an Ombudsman.
“Ogun State has fully implemented these resolutions with dispatch. Apart from these nationally agreed initiatives, Ogun State went some steps further by announcing other initiatives, including the development of Human Rights Complaints Report portal to make it easy for citizens to report cases on rights abuses by security agencies with facility to upload audio/video and documentary evidence.
“Others are the establishment of a forensic Laboratory for the police to aid in their investigation and intelligence gathering, and investment in training of the police officers to make them more professional and effective.
“However, despite all the engagements and practical demonstration of government commitment to addressing the demands of the protesters, youth and various pleas to bring an end to the agitation, particularly since most of the issues have been addressed, the protest has since escalated into another dimension, which we have seen:
✓ violence and manifest descent into anarchy
✓ burning of police stations
✓ vandalisation of public properties
✓ disruption of vehicular movements on major highways, leading to traffic gridlocks
✓ deployment of okada to transport hoodlums
✓ extortion of members of the public at illegal barricades erected at public spaces
✓ sometimes last week, a vehicle belonging to a top Government functionary was attacked and vandalised
✓ and very sadly, a custom officer was killed earlier today (Tuesday) by a mob on okadas in one of our border
towns. The incidents in our state are not isolated cases, indeed the there are worse and gory reports of disturbing developments in other states across the country, including jail breaks and loss of lives and properties.
“Earlier today, I held a meeting with security chiefs in the state. After an assessment of the prevailing situation, particularly emerging threats to public safety and security, as a responsible Administration, we considered a number of options, including imposing a curfew on the state. However, in line with our focused, deliberate and measured approach, we are adopting the following measures in the meantime:
✓ All schools are closed till Monday, 26th October, 2020
✓ Operation of commercial motorcycle, popularly called okada, is suspended across the state for tomorrow, Wednesday, 21st October, in the first instance
✓ Increased security around the correctional centres and public buildings
✓ Blockade of highways and molestation of innocent citizens going about their lawful business by protesters will no longer be tolerated
✓ Deployment of joint patrol teams of security agencies to ensure no threat to public security
Once again, we are hereby requesting the youth groups to appoint leaders amongst themselves for a meeting with the governor for further dialogue.
“We will be reviewing developments on a 24-hourly basis and will not hesitate to announce stringent measures as may be considered necessary.”