Abimbola Abatta, Osogbo
The Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has announced plans by traditional rulers in Nigeria to mediate between the Federal Government and organisers of the EndSARS Movement.
Reacting to the Lekki shootings where armed soldiers were alleged to have killed unarmed protesters, Ooni Ogunwusi said the decision to protect public facilities is necessary but should not include military engagement of the armless protesting youths.
Describing the incident as highly disheartening and regrettable, he stated that the deployment of armed military personnel in civil protests ought not to be encouraged until all peaceful avenues have been fully exhausted, saying such preemptive strikes can only worsen an already combustible situation.
As contained in a statement signed by the Ooni’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, the Ooni maintained that more patience and dialogue is needed to bring both parties to the table and set timelines for the implementation of the demands of the movement.
Ooni urged the government to bring the involved soldiers to justice, saying, “Our political leadership must immediately investigate the circumstances that led to the avoidable confrontation and consequent loss of lives with a view to swiftly fishing out the unlawful attackers who must be made to face the law.
He condemned the actions of hoodlums who have infiltrated the protest to discredit the intention of the genuine and patriotic protesters.
In his words, “There is a clear difference between the criminal hoodlums who have begun to hijack the hitherto peaceful protests and the patriotic Nigerian youths who were daily converging at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos and selected locations in other states including Abuja FCT in line with global best practices of protest gathering.”
“It is the hoodlums and vagrants perpetrating all manners of criminality discrediting the noble ideology of the peaceful Youths that should be demobilised and arrested.
“There is no doubt the exploitation of the protests by criminals attacking prisons, police stations and public facilities put the government on the edge and might have led to the military option but it is important to separate hoodlums committing these heinous crimes from protesters gathered in a specific location to draw attention to their legitimate demands.”
He further revealed the need for traditional rulers to intervene and restore people between the protesters and the government.
According to him, “Tension has risen on both sides. It is time to calm down and allow traditional rulers, as fathers of the Nation to lead the way to peace and restoration of trust. We must find amicable solutions even though this Lekki Toll Gate attack, has regrettably eroded the trust needed to establish dialogue and ensure a civic process for resolving the crises. We must not be tired.”
Ooni called on the government to as a matter of urgency respond to the yearnings of the patriotic protesters “to facilitate a just and peaceful resolution of all the challenges confronting the country.”
He enjoined the government to give listening ears to the demands of the youths saying, “We need to manage the process of listening to them and working with them to jointly arrive at the new Nigeria of our collective dreams.
“Their generation was nurtured with the values of efficiency, transparency, accountability and value chains. These are the noble values they seek to inject into our polity so that our country can realise its potential as a world power,” the Ooni noted.
While praying for the wounded and the souls of the departed, Ooni appealed to the youths to retreat and “allow government attend to their noble demands which are after all in the best interest of all stakeholders in the country, including Police and Army officers themselves.”
He also called for calm on all fronts to quell the tense atmosphere across the country.