Governors of the 19 Northern States in Nigeria have accused hoodlums of hijacking the #EndSARS protests and attempting to change government outside the ballot box.
The Governors laid the accusation in a communique issued on Thursday at the end of their emergency meeting in Kaduna State which was signed by Simon Lalong, the Forum’s chairman.
According to Lalong, who is also the Governor of Plateau State, they recognize the constitutional liberty of citizens to protest but don’t understand or support the decision to continue the protests after the government had met their demands.
He stated that the protests have been hijacked by criminally minded persons who are now using the protesters to push their selfish ambitions.
He said the protesters have turned themselves to enemies of the state and called on well-meaning Nigerians to resist any act or attempt to cause division in the country.
In his words, though they appreciate the constitutional rights of all citizens “to express concern even by way of protest, the governors, however, condemned the incessant destruction of lives and properties that ensued in the process.”
Lalong added that the “Forum strongly sues for unity and peaceful co-existence of all citizens and groups of people in Nigeria. Urge all Nigerians to see themselves as equal citizens of the country as the unity of Nigeria cannot be compromised.
“The Forum regrets the diabolical influencers in form of hooliganism, ethno-religious bigots and even political marauders who are bent on pulling the nation down its knees and pushing for regime change.
“The Forum called on all Nigerians to resist these enemies of the nation by supporting Mr President, the Federal Government and democracy at large as it would not lead to regime change.
“The forum appealed to all citizens to restrain themselves from unwarranted disposition of sentiments, harassment and intimidation of other citizens resident in their home states.
“The forum resolved to further intensify their strategic engagements among different levels of stakeholders in their respective states.”
The Plateau State Governor noted that the forum is in support for calls to reform the Police Force and better synergy between the states and federal government targeted at national development.
“The Forum calls for comprehensive and robust reforms in the Police Force. She supports various Federal Government initiatives put in place by the Federal Government and will ensure that they are fast track and given more impetus by the 19 northern states.”
“The Forum advocates for the constitution of judicial commission of enquiry to investigate all levels of destruction and killings during the EndSARS protest.”
The northern governors also “called for greater synergy between the state and the Federal Government in strengthening the unity, oneness and overall development of the country,” he said.
Speaking on the lingering face-off between the federal government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lalong urged the government to quickly find a solution to the impasse so that students can return to their studies.
He also commended the commitment of other Governors in calming the youths in their region down in the face of current challenges, while also appealing to the youths to embrace peace and dialogue.
The statement urged the “Federal Government to explore the possibility of ending ASUU strike,” saying that “most of the youths are idle staying at home.”
“The forum further restates her commitment in exploring area of reviving the ailing economy of the North with reference to those areas of comparative advantage.
“The Forum is in synergy with other governors in the South-West, South-South and South-East to address these challenges of nationhood headlong. Together we shall keep Nigeria united and indissoluble.
“The Forum restates its confidence in the unity of Nigeria and support all our colleagues in other states of the Federation in our collective efforts to restore peace and stability.
“The Forum salutes the resilience and restraint of the Northern youths in the face of the current challenges. Also, the Forum acknowledges the leadership qualities executed exhibited by some prominent Nigerian Leaders in persuading and calming nerves of the youths.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has apologized to Lagosians for the recent breakdown in law and order as well as cases of looting, arson, and deaths experienced in the state recently.
While taking responsibility for all that has happened, he appealed to Lagosians to join him in the effort to build a better Lagos.