Former President Goodluck Jonathan, has added his voice to the growing call for restraint in the handling of the protests against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), urging security authorities in the country to avoid the use of deadly force against fellow Nigerians.
The former president who stated this in a statement yesterday titled “A call for Peace,” also comforted the families of those who had died in the course of the protests, adding that the development “has been a difficult time to me as well.”
Jonathan, who has just been nominated by the African Union to lead its election observation mission to the October 28 Tanzania’s election, also urged aggrieved Nigerians to sheath their sword, embrace peace, and give a chance to the efforts being made in some states to investigate cases of impunity against security personnel.
He noted that nation building is a collective task and urged everyone to continue to have faith in Nigeria, and to be circumspect in their actions and peaceful in their engagements.
He said: “My heart goes out to the families of young Nigerians who have lost their lives in the past days as a result of #EndSARS protests. May God grant them the fortitude they need at this difficult time. It has been a difficult time to me as well.
“Nation-building is a collective task that involves the genuine efforts of all patriotic citizens; old or young. Our country cannot afford to lose the lives of our youth who we look up to take over leadership and continue our nation’s journey to greatness.
“As leaders, we must understand that a nation can never win a battle against its own people. Thus, the use of deadly force against citizens only aggravates tense situations rather than assuage it.
“We must therefore move away from battlegrounds to middle grounds in our individual and national life. This, I believe, epitomises the essence of democracy.
“I condemn any unnecessary loss of life and urge efforts to be stepped up to ensure that there is no such reoccurrence. We all must accept that we are all brothers and sisters of one Nigeria, and always act towards each other accordingly.
I urge protesters to do so with caution.
“I further call on our security forces to avoid the use of deadly force against non-combatant citizens and ensure maximum restraint is applied in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities of preserving and protecting the territorial integrity of our dear country; in particular, the lives and property of all Nigerians.”
Jonathan however, urged all citizens to continue to have faith in Nigeria and to be circumspect in our actions, law-abiding, and peaceful in our engagements.
He reiterated his stand that “nobody’s interest is worth the blood of any Nigerian citizen, or indeed any citizen of the world. Human life is sacrosanct”.
He also urged all young Nigerians, to give peace a chance, especially now that different stakeholders have demonstrated the willingness to investigate the various allegations of excessive use of force on citizens and address the culture of impunity by security personnel.
“I believe that it is time to sheath the sword. It is time to build the nation,” he added.