Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has again warned that his administration will decisively deal with any act of hooliganism from Nigerians who hide behind the guise of peaceful protests.
The federal government had recently said it will treat any fresh demonstration particularly if it threatens to disrupt peace and security of any part of the country, as high treason aimed at unconstitutional regime change.
Mr. Buhari also commended the army for their efforts in swiftly restoring law and order in many states “during the last scale of criminality that ensued in the wake of the EndSARS protests.”
The president on Monday stated these while virtually declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Meanwhile, the comments of the Nigerian leader comes at a time promoters of the protests have been flagging a second installment, barely a month after several private and government properties were looted when the process was hijacked by hoodlums.
“Let me mention the EndSARS protest which was recently hijacked by hoodlums which resulted in loss of lives and properties in many situations across the country. I want to reiterate our government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests.
“However, this must be done responsibly in accordance with the laws of the land. I also want to state that any act of hooliganism hiding behind the peaceful protests, will be highly dealt with decisively to ensure the peace and stability of our nation,” Mr. Buhari said.
He added that: “On this note, I commend the Nigeria Army for their efforts to swiftly restore law and order in many states during the large-scale criminality that ensued in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests.”
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in a statement quoted Buhari as describing 2020 as a very challenging year citing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on almost every aspect of national life.
The president said: “Despite this, I am pleased to note that the Army remained resolute in the discharge of its Constitutional roles and in keeping the wealth and welfare of our soldiers a priority.
“The Army’s support of Civil Authorities in the management of the COVID – 19 Pandemic is a case in point. Also, the peaceful elections conducted in Edo and Ondo States would not have been achieved without the high level of professionalism displayed by all security agencies, including the Army,” he said.
The President also commended the Army for its unwavering commitment towards curtailing the activities of insurgents, armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, and other violent criminals through ongoing exercises and operations in different parts of the country.
“I have also been briefed about the tremendous successes that have been achieved by troops during the ongoing Operation FIRE BALL in the North East. I charge you all to sustain these efforts until the full restoration of peace and security in the nation is achieved,” the President told members of the armed forces at the conference.
President Buhari also used the occasion to pay tribute to men and women in uniform who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence and security of the nation, commiserating with their families, comrades, and friends.
“As we pray for the repose of their souls, we must strengthen our collective resolve to address those issues that will make every part of our country a safe and secure place to live and carry out our normal business,” he said.
He pledged that his administration will not relent in its efforts to take adequate care of families of fallen heroes who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight against insurgency and other forms of crimes across the country.
By Abel Ejikeme