My Stand on the Attack of Peaceful Protesters at Lekki Tollgate

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Onofiok Luke, member of the House of Representatives, representing Etinan Federal Constituency in Akwa Ibom State posits that security agents in Nigeria should be more professional in their engagement with youths when they express their dissenting opinions

The event of Tuesday, October 20, 2020 in Lekki has left millions of citizens shocked and distraught for the obvious reason. The needless unleashing of live ammunition on peaceful protesters yesterday leaves a sad dent on our nation, one that must be condemned by all.

As an activist and one who has led peaceful protests in the past, both in my capacity as student leader and as Speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament, I am familiar with the rules of engagements regarding the advancement of group interest through protests. Where protesters peacefully sit-in as we saw last night in Lekki, security officials deployed to such protest grounds should never go overboard to shoot at the protesters. The resorting to live ammunition to subdue the protesters was needless, callous and condemnable.

Such force as was seen last Tuesday should have best been deployed in areas where hoodlums had reportedly broken into prisons, freed prisoners, and burnt down properties. The force in Lekki would have been suitable in dealing with hijackers of the protest who armed themselves to some of the protest arenas. The casualty recorded would have been avoided if security officials stuck to the rules of engagement by simply not unleashing those live ammunition. The reports and the images on social media are a sad narrative that must never repeat.

I remain in support of a peaceful protest while calling on our youths to not completely shut the door to meaningful dialogue with government. Our security agents can be more professional and this protest is a test of that professionalism.

While I totally condemn this development as are other Nigerians, let me register my sincere condolences to the families of the brave young men and women who have lost their lives or limbs in Lekki and across the country.

I urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Muhammadu Buhari to hearken to the call of Nigerians and address the nation at this solemn moment. This I believe will assuage grievances expressed by not just Nigerians but the global community. As the father of the nation, there can be no better time to speak than now.

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Such force as was seen last Tuesday should have best been deployed in areas where hoodlums had reportedly broken into prisons, freed prisoners, and burnt down properties. The force in Lekki would have been suitable in dealing with hijackers of the protest who armed themselves to some of the protest arenas. The casualty recorded would have been avoided if security officials stuck to the rules of engagement by simply not unleashing those live ammunition. The reports and the images on social media are a sad narrative that must never repeat.