October 22, 2020
- Ekiti Kete, I address you today in respect of the current security situation in our State, south-west zone and Nigeria as a whole which has necessitated the imposition of curfew. The events of the last one week has been deeply troubling and of a great concern to me and many patriotic citizens of our dear State.
- You would recall that on October 9, 2020, some concerned youths organised what was clearly a peaceful protest in Ado-Ekiti, just like their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria. The protest was commendably peaceful and their demand was justified. The main crux of their demand was to put an end to police brutality which was exemplified by the defunct State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a department of the police which had become notorious for very many professional misconduct.
- This protest lasted for about eleven days without any security threats either to the protesters or the public. In fact, I instructed the security agencies to ensure that none of the protesters was molested. You would also recall that I addressed the protesters who picketed the roads leading to the Government House on October 16, 2020 while I was on my way to the Ekiti House of Assembly for the State of the State Address I told them that I was fully in support of the protest and their main demand. Even though an attempt was made to attack my convoy later at the House of Assembly, I held the view that the attack had nothing to do with the peaceful protesters I had earlier addressed but rogue elements trying to take advantage of the situation.
- Things took a dangerous turn over the weekend as miscreants took advantage of the protest to launch an unimaginable level of violence on the public here in Ekiti and also in other contiguous states. Although, violence relating to the protest in Ekiti has been limited due to the proactive steps taken by government, the experience in other parts of the south west, especially Lagos has been horrendous and deplorable.
- On Monday, 19th October, 2020, I met with the President in my capacity as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to deliver a clear message from my colleagues on the need for a broadcast and careful handling of the protest which was degenerating in many States..
- Now that the President has spoken acknowledging the demands and explaining what government is doing about them. I want to thank the leadership of the protest movement in Ekiti for calling off the protest. The import of the protest has been largely achieved. The Federal Government has banned the SARS department in response to the five demands made by the EndSARS movement and those held in SARS detention centres have been released. In Ekiti, as in many States of the Federation, a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to look into the cases of abuses, extra-judicial acts and general misconduct which led to the protest, has been set up. A restitution fund to compensate for the losses of the victims of such abuses is also established while other demands like increase in salaries of police officers is being attended to.
- I urge our youths who want nothing but a nation that serves and benefit all to show restraint in the way they pursue their demands. I fully understand and endorse the far-reaching message that the EndSARS protest articulated. It is generally a protest not just against brutality by police officers, but a wakeup call to all of us in positions of responsibility and the entire citizenry to have a new direction in the manner we handle the governance of the nation. It is a collective reminder to us that the urgency to act more decisively on how to improve the lot of our people is now. We must not let this seed to be emasculated in the crevice of violence that has attended the protest. This message has been well made. It is time for meaningful engagement. To this end, I am announcing the expansion of the mandate of our Youth Development Council with a view to deepening the State’s engagement with our youths and ensuring speedier implementation of the Ekiti Youth Agenda in partnership with all critical stakeholders in the youth constituency.
- As a result of those who unleashed mayhem and brigandage on private and public property, the state government was compelled to impose a 24 hour curfew on the State. While calm has been restored in most parts of the State, we have decided to watch development over the weekend before deciding on next steps. It is for this reason that I have extended the 24 hour curfew on the State until 0600hrs on Monday, 26th October 2020. This painful action was taken in the best interest of ourselves to ensure that the crisis does not escalate since criminals enjoy mimicking violent occurrences in other places. It is my hope that we will not have cause to extend the curfew any further. I want to urge all our traditional institutions, religious bodies, politicians and community leaders to use this weekend to engage the youth in their respective communities to give peace a chance. To this end, the curfew will allow an exception for Friday Jumat and Saturday and Sunday worship in churches.
- In the meantime, security agencies have been instructed to exercise judicious restraint in response to the tense situation. The intention of Government is to ensure peace, under no condition should indiscretional responses be allowed to escalate the situation. I therefore appeal for the cooperation of our people and the security personnel who are doing a tremendous job to ensure that we live in peace.
- As for those who may still want to test the resolve of government by engaging in violent action leading to a breakdown of law and order, I urge you to think twice because I will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law against such errant conduct.
- Finally, let me commiserate with those who have suffered losses as a result of the wanton destruction that occurred in the State. May the Good Lord heal our land and give us strength to bring joy and succour where there is sadness, despair and despondency.
Alale Ekiti a gbe a.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON
October 22, 2020.