By Onome Oghenetega
Minister of Youths and Social Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, on Monday visited President Muhammadu Buahri over the continued #EndSARS protests across the country.
The Minister after the visit told journalists that Mr. President is not against ongoing protest across the country but called for a peaceful exercise.
Millions of Nigerians have been protesting against police brutality, extortion and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force alleged to be known for police harassment and brutality.
Dare noted that President Buhari is however concerns about how the protest was turning into violence in states of the country.
“First, Mr President said as far as he was concerned, it is important to allow the younger generation to exercise the freedom to protest, but he did say that such protests must be in a peaceful manner.
“Of course, he is worried about some of the exceptions to the peaceful nature of the protests.
“For him, it is important that these protests are properly guided. He said part of the demands that were made was to ensure those protesting are protected and any police officer that has in one way or the other attacked any protester be brought to book.
“So, Mr President thinks it is a fundamental human right, so long as the protest is peaceful and focused. He said he has been responsive to demands put forward by the protesters.
“He believes the youth to a very large extent are law-abiding, they are young people with dreams and expectations of the government and the society and that they have a right to demand for certain things, which is why he has a very attentive ear to their demands”, he stated.
He disclosed that some of the demands by the protesters were already being addressed by the Federal Government.
The minister added that some of the demands will be addressed with time because of the constitutional constraints.
According to him, “The President spoke directly on Monday, condemning the killings, particularly the extra-judicial killings that have occurred before, police brutality and approving investigation and to bring the guilty to book. That is one level of conversation.
“Last week, we had a virtual town-hall meeting in which we had the police PRO and myself engaging with over 145 youths online, where they asked numerous questions.
“We provided updates and the police was able to give further details on how the reforms were proceeding and will proceed, in some cases clear timelines on how the reforms will take place.
“The demands are already in the public and the government is already addressing those demands. That in itself is a demand and a conversation.
“Some of these demands will take time there are processes that must take place.
“Some of the demands need administrative responses; some of them need legislation; some of them need executive orders where necessary.
“All of these will take time. We live in a constitutional democracy, these processes cannot be usurped or bypassed, they must take time.
“But I think that the youth of this country have been heard, the agenda is clear and the government has taken note, government has gone to work.”