Citing COVID-19 Protocols, FCT Bans #EndSARS Protest

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Citing COVID-19 protocols, the FCT Security Committee has banned #EndSARS protests in the federal capital territory.

It frowned on the fact that protests continued in parts of the territory in spite of the disbandment of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as well as annocement of other reforms aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the Nigerian police by the federal government.

The committee, which held a routine meeting to review the security situation in the FCT to identify challenges, lamented that the protesters were causing inconveniences to law abiding citizens.

A statement issued Thursday by the FCT Administration Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, said the meeting, which was chaired by the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, had in attendance, the Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, heads of the various security agencies and military formations in the FCT, senior members of staff of the FCTA, representatives of religious and traditional institutions as well as Area Council Chairmen.

After hours of extensive deliberations, the Committee expressed concern that despite the pronouncement by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, scrapping the FSARS, the #ENDSARS protests have continued in parts of the FCT.

The Committee declared its support for the rights of citizens as regards freedom of association and movement as enshrined in the constitution.

It, however, said it had observed that the unruly conduct of the crowd and manner of demonstrations were in complete violation of the COVID-19 safety protocols, which were put in place to safeguard the lives of citizens.

The FCT Security Committee said these violations endanger the lives of not just the demonstrators, but also other citizens going about their legitimate concerns.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the COVID-19 guidelines regulating public gatherings recommend physical distancing, temperature checks, the use of facial coverings, among others. Clearly all these guidelines were flouted by the protesters.

“Consequently, the Committee directs that due to the dangers posed by COVID-19, all street demonstrations, protests and processions will not be allowed anywhere within the FCT,” the statement said.

The committe gave kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari for directing to the IG to disband SARS as well as other reforms that will improve policing in the country.

The Security Committee reiterated the commitment of the FCT Administration to ensure that all residents are safe, secure and able to go about their lawful businesses without fear of intimidation or harassment.

It also noted the progress being made in the fight against robberies in illegal and unregistered, commercial motor vehicles known as “one chance” saying it is committed to the introduction of innovative measures that will ensure the safety of commuters.

It also expressed with satisfaction the successful re-opening of schools after the forced closure due to COVID-19, while calling on parents, students and school authorities to continue to comply with the extant COVID-19 safety protocols.