Obasanjo: Denial of wrongdoing in the face of Visual Evidence will worsen crisis

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Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria has reacted to the ongoing crisis bedeviling Nigeria following the massacre of unarmed protesters at Lekki toll gate on Tuesday.

Many Nigerian youths were murdered in cold blood while others sustained injuries after a demonstration of civil disobedience to remain on protest grounds after curfew hours.

The Nigerian Army has denied any involvement in the massacre of peaceful protesters.

Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu also denied that military officers murdered unarmed protesters.

According to the Governor, “forces” beyond his control were responsible for the massive shootings at the popular Lekki Toll gate on Tuesday night.

Obasanjo who condemned the killings disclosed it was futile for the government to continue denying their involvement in the killings inspite of overwhelming visual evidence.

The former President noted the violence against peaceful protesters would only result in more chaos and crisis.

He urged the government to grant the demands of its youths to avoid further breakdown of law and order.

This was contained in a written statement made available to newsmen by Kehinde Aninyemi, Special Assistant on Media to former President Obasanjo.

The statement titled “Violence Against Protesters in Nigeria: An Appeal for Calm” reads,

“It is with a heavy heart and deep sense of concern about the ongoing violence, chaos and unrest in many parts of Nigeria that I make this appeal to the government and people of our dear country, Nigeria, to eschew violence and embrace peace and dialogue in finding solutions to the challenges we face as a country

 

“I particularly appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, in capacities as President of Nigeria, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and a parent of youth like the ones who have in the last week come out in peaceful protest against police brutality and for improvement in their lives and their living conditions, to restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of ending the crisis

 

“The shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration. Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution

 

“It is clear that Mr President and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resulting to use of force

 

“It is worse that there is a denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control

 

“We are at a critical moment in this crisis and Mr President must act before it is too late. This time demands leadership and mature leadership at such”.

 

“Most of the demands of the protesting youth, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the President, are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened.

 

“It is imperative that leaders at all levels, starting from Mr President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice is served where it must be served. These are the most potent ways of ending this crisis now

 

“The youth too must give peace a chance while making their legitimate demands. They must be mindful of miscreants who will infiltrate their ranks and give the protests a bad name only so that trigger – happy forces will kill them”.

 

“The destruction and looting of public and private properties will hurt all of us and set us back. The targeting of individuals and groups for attacks and reprisal attacks will only further widen our divisions, escalate the crisis and threaten our fragile unity

”This is yet another moment when our nation is on the edge of cliff. Our individual and collective actions now and in the next few days will determine where we will go as a nation. May God help us in taking the right steps in the right direction”.

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