President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday noted that the peaceful protest calling for an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, was hijacked by hoodlums and misdirected.
The President stated this during his meeting with former Heads of State and Presidents of Nigeria, Friday in Abuja.
The Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Femi Adesina, noted that his principal spoke against breaking down of law and order in the country.
The meeting had the presence of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President declared: ”We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.”
“Buhari said that unfortunately, the protesting youths refused to go home but continued the protest and engage the government to address their grievances.”
The President in his statement further stated that the protesters became emboldened and gradually became violent.
Buhari while appreciating the former Heads of State for their time said, ”Nigerians expect nothing less from responsible statesmen.”
The former leaders commended the President for the steps taken so far on the development.
The former heads of state were unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy including through direct foreign investments were critical to checking youth restiveness.
The leaders also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of civilians, policemen and soldiers killed as a result of the violent protest, and reaffirmed the commitment to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, including for peaceful protest as enshrined in the Constitution.
The former Heads of State also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists, and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.
State Governors were also lauded for their action so far on the development in the country and how they have addressed breakdown of law and orders.
Finally, they called on youths to pursue peaceful means, in seeking redress through engagement with Government and encouraged further conversation with the youths and other stakeholders in the country