The South-West Governors Forum has blamed “diabolical incursions” for massive destruction that followed EndSARS protests in Lagos and other parts of the geopolitical zone.
The governors stated this in a statement issued by the Forum Chairman and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
He said that the protests which started off as genuine, demanding reforms and restitution, was hijacked by some elements to execute destruction in the region.
According to the statement, the governors in the region had responded positively to the demands of the protesters by setting up Commissions of Inquiry to probe allegations of violations of human rights by police.
He said that this followed a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on October 16, 2020.
“You will recall that the Inspector General of Police issued an order disbanding the special unit formerly known as Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS) in the wake of the protests across the country.
“Recent development leaves us with no other option than to believe that there may have been other reasons for the continued protests, well-coordinated and funded.
“The spread of fake news and videos, which followed an allegation of shooting by some soldiers with a claimed heavy casualty figure at the Lekki Toll Gate, Victoria Island, Lagos, is primarily responsible for the subsequent loss of lives and property.
“We commiserate with the families of victims of violence across Lagos State and slain Policemen. We pray that the Almighty grant them the fortitude to bear these avoidable losses.
“We also note, with much pain and sadness, the vast and spreading destruction of property belonging to notable individuals and vestiges of our collective patrimony and pride,” the governors said.
“The Governors of the South West States of Nigeria wish to solidarise with the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo Olu, on the unfortunate occurrences of the past few days in Lagos State, which have impacted, negatively, on the whole Region.
“It is disquieting, to assert the least, that a protest, widely acclaimed as peaceful and purpose-driven, has been hijacked by some people, ostensibly to execute a destructive design.
“We commiserate with His Royal Majesty, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, on the sacrilege committed at his palace and condemn in no unmistakable terms the vile attack on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and destruction of businesses where it is believed he has an interest, TVC, THE NATION to mention a few.
“This regression into savagery exposes our land as not only vulnerable but susceptible to vile manipulations by elements keenly anxious to annihilate the South -est and destroy our common heritage.
“We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investments of our people have been burnt despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas. We call on the heads of all security agencies to be alive to their obligations to defend the country,” the statement further read.
The governors implored the security agencies“to investigate all cases of violence with a view to identifying the culprits.
“We are particularly worried that 48 hours, after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by persons adorning military fatigue, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident.
“Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the Governor of Lagos State concerning the deployment. No Governor has the power to authorise the deployment of military personnel in Nigeria.
“We note, with great relief, the confirmation by the Governor that no fatality was recorded at the Lekki Toll Gate incident based on visits to hospitals, mortuaries, both private and public. There were no doubt different levels of
injury to persons arising from the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“Consequently, we insist that full investigation be conducted to ascertain the veracity of the news items liberally circulated by some local media. It is becoming very clear that the conflagration may have been caused by deliberate deployment “a weapon of mass confusion” apology to Dr Ope Banwo. The attendant damage was extensive and massive.
“The selective application of jungle justice raises suspicion as regards the real motive of the arsonists and vandals. We use this medium to appeal to the youth, especially those of South West extraction, to be circumspect lest they
lend themselves to the evil schemes of those who want to destroy our land.
“The protests started off as genuine, demanding reforms and restitution. The current happenings across the South-West, especially Lagos State, have exposed dubiousness and complicity evidencing malice afore-thought.
“We enjoin our youth to rise up to defend our land and people against the diabolical incursions ravaging our space. What do we stand to gain destroying ourselves?
“We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our heritage destroyed and our people suffer. We must engage, constructively, all those whose dubious solutions to a social problem is the descent to anarchy. We appeal to them to ‘CALM DOWN’.
“We commend the Governor of Lagos State for his administrative acumen. We note his patience and understanding in the face of unwarranted provocation by agents of darkness. We stand, resolutely, with him at this trying period.
“We should not allow brigandage and wanton destruction of lives and property within our walls in the South-West. As we await reports from relevant agencies and action of Government, we appeal to the young ones again to suspend the #ENDSARS protest, remain calm and vigilant.”