President Muhammadu Buhari said the dispatch in which the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS was disbanded was viewed by subversive elements as a sign of government’s weakness.
Buhari stated this while addressing the nation on the ravaging violence rocking some states emanating from EndSARS protest, which assumed violence dimension as a result of hoodlums.
The President hinted that his decision to heed to the calls of the protesters by promptly disbanding SARS was taken as weakness in some quarters, resulting in the wanton destruction of properties and killings by hoodlums.
His word, “The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.
“As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive police reforms.
“Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the palace of a peacemaker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an international airport and, in the process, disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.
“All these executed in the name of the #EnSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.”