The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to halt all forms of divisive and repressive steps the federal government has taken so far against the EndSARS protesters.
The Southern and Middle Belt leaders, in a joint statement issued yesterday and entitled, ‘You can’t kill EndSARS with terror,’ condemned the restrictions on the protesters’ accounts by the apex bank and the demonisation of the protesters by the government and its sympathisers.
The statement was signed by Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-south); Yinka Odumakin (South-west); Chief Guy Ikokwu (South-east) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
It said the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who labelled the protesters as ‘terrorists’, should have a proper definition of terrorism, as he is serving a government that was once accused of paying 3 million Euros to Boko Haram by WSJ and whose governors pose every now and then with bandits they are cuddling.
The SMBLF lamented that if the country is properly governed, what should be happening now is proper healing and ensuring the country does not have to go through another unrest again.
The forum, while demanding the release of all those arrested or their being charged to court without delay, said the Buhari administration is sowing another seed that could trigger a bigger crisis.
It also demanded a halt of the inquisition going on, adding that it is an ill-wind that can blow no good.
‘’We did not miss the projection when we interpreted President Muhammadu Buhari’s regrets of his accepting the #ENDSARS demands quickly as being seen as a sign of weakness in his last broadcast as a declaration that he would bare his fangs and ruthlessly deal with the protesters after the unwarranted and wicked killings of some of them at Lekki Tollgate and other places.
‘’Let us state clearly first that we are not in any way impressed by the belated and after-thought measure of sending some Kaduna delegates like the Chief of Staff and the IG round the non-Arewa sections of the country with a script to manipulate support for the ruthless killings of our young people and the barbaric desire to clamp down on social media as we have seen in the communiqués of the safaris to the South-east and South-west.
We see the denial by Oyo Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, that the South-west did not canvass the clampdown on social media as a signal that the foot soldiers of the regime are deceiving themselves to colour the good points our people made at those sessions with the stinking propaganda of deluded colonial lords in Abuja.
‘’There have been reports of preventing leaders and supporters of the protest from travelling and alleged seizures of their travelling documents and freezing of their bank accounts without court process at a time the Attorney-General of the Federation is asking UAE authorities to give him the records of trials of six Nigerian Boko Haram funders convicted in that country by the highest court so he can certify whether justice was done or not,” the group said.
Speaking on a live television programme, Akeredolu said the issue of the freezing of the accounts was discussed last Sunday at the meeting of governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the South-west.
“The issue of the accounts that were frozen was discussed, but nobody said in the communiqué that we appreciated the government for freezing the accounts.
“We know that there are ways to get a few things done without putting it in the public glare and start contestation on the pages of newspapers. So, we know what we decided and we know what we want to do about that.
“The issue, when it was raised, generated debate. But it was so clear that some people were getting to fund this for reasons other than #EndSARS. So, if we know money moved from some accounts that were suspicious, do you say the government should keep quiet? It is something we are looking into,” he added.
Akeredolu also urged the youth representatives on the Lagos State Commission of Judiciary Inquiry probing cases of police brutality and the Lekki shootings to resume sitting while they challenge the CBN action in court.
He said: “If I were counsel to those people, I will not advise them not to appear at that panel.
“Accounts are frozen, is that the first time it is done? If your account was frozen, you justify why the money was there. You explain what use you have used the money for.
“If it is, okay, we paid this caterer to give food to these boys when they were there. We spent money before the hoodlums took over. It will be explained. People will know and the accounts will be de-frozen.
“If for instance, my account was frozen, all I will do is to go to court and explain. Politicians’ accounts have been frozen and all they do is to go to court to explain and the court will say, leave the accounts and the accounts will be de-frozen and they get their money.