The National Peace Committee (NPC) has called for calm after the uprising following the #EndSARS protest in several states of the federation, stating that further escalation of violence could become counterproductive.
The National Peace Committee made this known in a statement signed by its Chairman and Convener, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and Bishop Matthew Kukah, respectively.
The Peace Committee also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the rights of citizens were fully respected and protected.
The committee further urged President Buhari to take very seriously the grievances of the youths and lay out more clearly, a short, medium and long- term programme for meeting the objectives of the protests for the growth of the nation’s democracy.
The National Peace Committee also called on protesters to take a break, considering the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which was still very much around and does not recognise protests.
The Committee noted that it was dangerous for the nation to let its guards down considering what is happening around the world, with new threats of the resurgence of the pandemic.
It further said the #EndSARS protest was a legitimate pursuit by youths in the country, adding that like millions of other Nigerians, it is within their rights to express their grievances with the system.
“We watched with utter shock, deep sorrow and sadness, the events that have taken place across the country in the wake of these protests by our youths.
“We have seen ugly scenes of activities that are totally unrelated to the goals of the youth protesters.
“This is very sad, but we call for calm among our people and appeal to the president to ensure that the rights of citizens are fully respected and protected.
“The right to protest is considered a cardinal principle in human existence wherever individuals live together as a family or a community. Every community is formed and strengthened by the contribution of all its members.
“The respect for and defense of the right of each member of the community is what sustains and strengthens that community.
“Therefore, when an individual or some members feel aggrieved, it is their right to seek redress within the rules guiding their existence and that of the community.
“It is against this backdrop that we must see the EndSARS protests by the youths in our dear country as a legitimate pursuit.
“Like millions of other Nigerians, we all concede that it is within the rights of our youths to express their grievances with the system,” the group said.
It, however, pointed out that the right to protest is not an absolute right independent of the machinery and laws that govern a given society.
The committee said whenever an individual or a group protests in the face of an injury, it is often based on the fact that other remedies have not worked.
“Notwithstanding this, the right of the protester must include the belief that a redress will benefit both the aggrieved and the larger society,” the National Peace Committee said.
“We assumed that the protests were an effort at ensuring that the grievances of the youths are heard. It is clear that at all levels, there has been a response.
“These responses show clearly that everyone acknowledges the sentiments that the protests have expressed. Now, there is need to pause for many reasons.
“The Federal Government has apologised and this is commendable. The state governors have responded promptly by acknowledging the genuine grievances of the youths, and thirdly, the Inspector General of Police has also been quite decisive.
“We believe that in any civilised pursuit of common good, these steps show some level of goodwill and an acknowledgement that the grievances of the youths are taken seriously.
“The freedom to protest ends and imposes a right on the protester when the agent acknowledges the circumstances that have led to the protest.
“Therefore, we call on the youths to respond appropriately by accepting the show of faith by all levels of government and the Police Force,” the Committee said.
The Peace Committee added that developments among some of the youths were causing some very serious concerns and could lead to a defeat for the noble project that the genuinely aggrieved youths have embarked upon.
“We, therefore, call for a pause because further escalation of violence could become counterproductive.
“We are already seeing youths arming themselves against fellow youths. This ugly development could set the youths back on the path of progress and derail their capacity to become leaders themselves in the future.
“There is therefore the need for the youths to be sensitive to the concerns of their parents who are already under the dead weight of poverty and grave social challenges.
“A pause is urgent so that all sides can prepare for negotiations that benefit everyone. This will reposition the country to consolidate on the gains of democracy,” the Peace Committee stated. (NAN)