#EndSARS protests: We have no choice now but to restore law & order – Sanwo-Olu

…Governor denies sponsoring armed thugs to attack protesters

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday said his government now has no choice but to take every necessary step to restore law and order and to minimise the disruptions being caused by #EndSARS protest across the state.

He lamented that all law-abiding residents of Lagos State were experiencing disruptions occasioned by the protest.

The governor spoke at a news conference in Marina, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday.

“Let me now directly address all protesters who have taken their message to the street to agitate for change and reform of the police. It is now time to ask you all, to acknowledge the progress being made and to respond in good faith.

“We are starting to record violent incidents as well as the breakdown of law and order. This week we have seen an
escalation in incidents arising from the protests. Reports of medical evacuations hindered by the blockage of key roads and the worsening traffic arising from the protests.

“Lagosians who are unable to go to their workplaces or earn a legitimate living because of the collateral impact of protest gatherings. We therefore cannot continue this way. What we need now, and ask for, is for you to sheath your swords, and give us a chance, as Federal and State Governments, to consolidate on these actions being promptly taken to address your concerns,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu said even as government affirmed the constitutional rights of all protesters to peacefully make their grievances known, it was also the duty as a government to ensure that the exercise of one set of rights by one group of people did not in any way constrain the rights of any other group of people.

“We now have no choice but to take every necessary step to restore law and order and to minimise the disruptions being experienced by all law-abiding residents of Lagos State,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu urged the protesters to also remember that COVID-19 was still very much with around, as the state has begun to record increases.

“We are still amidst a pandemic; we are not out of it yet. As at Wednesday the 14th of October, 2020, Lagos State had recorded a total of 20,394 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 16,734 have recovered in community, 968 are currently active in community, and 207 deaths have sadly occurred.

“You might have noticed a sharp rise in the number of cases reported in the last two days, out of step with the numbers we have been daily recording in recent weeks.

“This is however a wake-up call to jolt us out of complacency. In the last six months we have made tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19; do not let us, through carelessness or nonchalance, reverse this progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu, said the state did not sponsor armed thugs to attack protesters in the Alausa area of the state.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Lagos will never encourage thuggery’.

Some armed thugs on Thursday morning attacked youths protesting against police brutality and extortion in the state.

The statement also noted that Sanwo-Olu would be addressing the protesters on Thursday evening.

The statement read in part, “The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to some unverified reports in the social media alleging that the government-sponsored thugs to disrupt the #EndSARS protest. This is untrue and wicked.

“Such wild allegations were obviously concocted by enemies of peace and orderliness to whip up sentiments against the government, which has been doing everything possible to resolve the crisis by identifying with our youths in their efforts towards police reforms.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will this evening address Lagosians on the crisis.

“The enemies of progress who are not happy that Lagos is not on fire are the ones fueling the infernal lies that the government was sponsoring thugs to attack our protesting youths. They have been posting on the social media pictures suggesting that a Lagos Bus Service vehicle was conveying thugs.

The bus in question was on its normal operation when it ran into a group of protesters. The passengers, who felt endangered, rushed out of the bus. They returned to continue their journey after the charging crowd had left.

“As a government, we will never encourage thuggery or any act of violence that may put the lives and businesses of Lagosians at risk. We are strongly committed to ensuring that our youths, who have taken to the streets to air their views, are well protected.”

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