President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that he will do whatever it takes to ensure the #EndSARS protest does not repeat itself in the country.
Buhari and heads of security agencies in the country also expressed concern over the increasing cases of banditry and kidnapping in the country, especially the North West and North East geopolitical zones and resolved to deal with it decisively.
The President spoke on a day operatives of the Nigeria Police Force surrounded the vicinity of Afrika Shrine, where a meeting on #EndSARS protests was expected to hold.
This is even as a Magistrate court in Yaba, Lagos State, yesterday, granted bail to the embattled #EndSARS protester, Peter Eromosele Adene, in the sum of one million naira.
Meanwhile, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, has said the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, would soon release a blueprint on how businesses attacked by hoodlums during the unrest that followed the #EndSARS protests would be supported.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, who disclosed news of the President's assurance while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the National Security Council meeting, chaired by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja yesterday, said the meeting was convened to brief the President on the security situation in the country.
On #EndSARS protests
He said: "The meeting noted with concern the increasing cases of armed banditry, particularly in the North West and North Eastern parts of the country. The meeting agreed to be more proactive in dealing with the situation in a more decisive manner.
"The meeting noted the need to pay greater attention to the police in the discharge of its functions to maintain peace in the country, in the areas of equipment and modern technology.
"The meeting thanked the President for the concern which he has shown in repositioning the police to perform more effectively.
"In his concluding remarks, Mr. President thanked members for the efforts they are making in maintaining peace and assured members that he will do whatever it takes to support security agencies in providing peace in the country.
"The President assured Nigerians that he will do whatever it takes to ensure the repeat of EndSARS protests does not occur in Nigeria again. He reassured that all stakeholders will be involved in the process of maintaining peace in the country, particularly the youth, community leaders, traditional rulers, politicians, public servants, religious leaders etc."
The Minister said the Federal Government would continue to maintain its bureaucratic, humane and just postures in handling security matters in the country.
Asked to explain what the President meant by saying he will not allow a repeat of #EndSARS protest and whether he would move against any such protest in future, the Minister said: "What we are saying is that government will continue to dialogue, it will continue to listen and will continue to carry all stakeholders along in ensuring that there is no repeat of what happened that destroyed a lot of properties belong to the public and private individuals in this country."
Fielding question on the Council's resolution to be more decisive in dealing with security issues, the Police Affairs minister said an all inclusive action would be taken to ensure that in terms of technology and equipment, the challenges were taken head on.
Dingyadi said the government, alongside the security agencies, have set out a timeline to deal with the security situation in the country.
"Let me say that in whatever one does, you must have a timeline, you must have your targets and you must work towards achieving those targets. We have our timelines, we have our targets and we are working towards achieving those targets," he said.
Also answering questions on the comment by Audu Bulama Bukarti, a security analyst in an interview that if care was not taken, bandits and other criminals would become too powerful to be reined in, he said bandits had already been degraded and could never overpower the government.
The minister said: "You see, these bandits have already being degraded, so there is no way they will resuscitate themselves and take over.
"I think they have already been degraded, what they are doing is just hit and run kind of tactics. So, we don't see any sign of they coming to takeover or overpower government, I think they have been well degraded and they are just trying to show their presence in a very cowardice manner."
On the concerns that police have abandoned Abuja-Kaduna road, the Minister said: "Once a small thing happens in a particular place like this Kaduna, we begin to talk about lack of security in that area.
"That place is being monitored 24 hours. There are police and the army who are on a kind of joint patrol on 24 hours basis. We also have our own separate police formation that is also on that road.
"I think it is an overstatement to say that that place is not being secured. People are still following it, we agree that there have been cases of attacks but these are normal things these people do whenever they have opportunity and we are equal to the task.
"Whenever this kind of thing happens, we pursue them like what happened just two days ago, those people were rescued. So police and other security personnel will continue to monitor this road and all other places to ensure that peace is to a very large extent maintained in the area."
Police and duty posts
Asked if the police were really back on the streets and whether their morale had been boosted to tackle the boldness of kidnappers going to people's homes, the minister said the police were back on their duty post.
"Even this morning (yesterday) at this meeting, I informed Council that the police are very much on their duty posts, unlike what people are saying. We receive daily situation reports from across the states and that is a good indicator that the police are very much on their duty posts, they are also on the road and they are working 24 hours.
"But I will agree with you when you say that police are not everywhere. We cannot be everywhere because of our number and equipment but we are doing all we can to ensure that we cover as much as we can and to protect as many lives as we can to ensure that there is peace in this country," he said.
The Minister, who was asked what was being done differently to stop the money being paid as ransom, which allegedly was being used to fund Boko Haram, he warned the public to stop paying ransom.
He said: "You see, we always encourage people to report these cases to the police because the moment you take it upon yourself and continue to pay ransom, this will continue to occur.
"But if you report to the police, they will continue to pursue these people and in most cases, we succeed in freeing these victims."
The roll call
The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and the Ministers of Defense Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magaji (retd.).
Others were the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama; and the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi.
The Service chiefs in attendance were the Chief of Defense Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu; Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Rafa'i Abubakar; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi were also present at the meeting.
Police move to abort #EndSARS meeting
Also yesterday, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force surrounded the vicinity of Afrika Shrine, where a meeting on #EndSARS protests was expected to hold.
It was learned that Seun, one of the sons of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, had earlier sent out flyers announcing a meeting on the lessons of #EndSARS protests.
Vanguard gathered that policemen were strategically placed on streets leading to Afrika Shrine, a popular spot in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.
Some policemen were also seen at the entrance of the venue of the botched meeting.
Many activists and #EndSARS campaigners had indicated interest to attend the meeting before the convener, Seun Anikulapo Kuti, said the meeting had been suspended.
Seun said in a series of tweets: "Yesterday, (Monday) the government called my eldest sister, Yeni Anikalpo Kuti, and threatened to close the shrine if I hold my event there tomorrow (yesterday) and also sent a letter to back it up.
"I respect my families' decision not to hold the event as it is but I will still go ahead with all the other organisations to launch THE MOVEMENT OF THE PEOPLE tomorrow and start our political resistance to the tyranny of this oppressive regime.
"This is a meeting, just a meeting of organisations and they are basically banning the right of association. Why are they afraid of the people organising? What is democratic about this act? The last time we tried to launch the government quickly called curfew and this time they have used threat but you can't stop the will of the people."
Lagos State Police Command which had earlier warned that the meeting posed a security threat, had said in a letter addressed to Seun: "You are hereby warned to suspend such gathering as any infraction that may emerge from this gathering will be tagged a deliberate action to sabotage the transition and restoration of the peace in Lagos State by Lagos State government and the Nigeria Police Force."
Eromosele gets bail
In a related development, a Magistrate court in Yaba, Lagos State, yesterday granted bail to the embattled #EndSARS protester, Peter Eronmosele Adene, in the sum of one million naira.
The court granted the bail after it rejected a request by the police for an order to detain him for another 30 days, to enable them conclude investigations into the allegations against the defendant.
Counsel to the defendant, Mr Adeshina Ogunlana, argued that the facts were not weighty enough to support further remand of the defendant who had been in police custody for about 12 days since his arrest.
Before proceedings commenced, there was a disagreement between the family members and friends of Eromosele who protested police refusal to allow them enter the courtroom, while Eromosele was made to sit in the Hilux van outside the court for over an hour.
Journalists were also barred from entering the court.
A woman said she was already inside and she just came out to meet someone, only to be prevented from going back in, whereas her belongings were inside.
But according to the security operatives, they were only trying to prevent a crowd from building up around the court.
Journalists were also not allowed to get in.
The security operatives had arrived in the area earlier, blocking the road leading to the court premises.
The embattled youth was arrested on November 7 by the police for his involvement in the #EndSARS protest and also on allegations of providing financial support to the movement.
He was subsequently whisked to Abuja days later and this sparked the trend, #FreeEromz.
CACOVID 'll assist victims -- Emefiele
Meanwhile, Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, would soon release a blueprint on how businesses attacked by hoodlums during the unrest that followed the #EndSARS protests would be supported.
A statement signed by Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary to Lagos State governor yesterday, quoted Emefiele as saying the prevalence of youth unemployment provides a breeding ground for criminal activities that could be harmful to the progress of the country, hence CACOVID will provide platforms that will create millions of jobs for the youths within five years.
Emefiele said: "Our youths have immense potential, energetic and if well-handled can catapult our nation to the forefront of leading nations in the world.
"We must, therefore, seek to promote increasing policies that will equip our youths in the right skills that will support innovation, employment and wealth creation.
"It is in this light that key stakeholders in the Nigerian private sector came together under the auspices of CACOVID to brainstorm on ways to prevent the effect of the recent unrest from eroding confidence in our economy.
"I am pleased to note that the CACOVID alliance will, over the next week, be unveiling a blueprint that will provide details of our planned support that positively affect households and businesses.
"This is in addition to measures that will create millions of jobs for our youths over the next five years. Many parts of the country were affected by the unrest but Lagos remains the worst hit."
To rebuild 44 police stations
He also said the bankers' committee and other stakeholders in the private sector under the auspices of CACOVID would rebuild 44 police stations destroyed in the unrest.
"The CACOVID alliance is fully aware of the vital relationship between security and a prosperous economy. The damage done on police stations in different parts of the country can undermine the provision of adequate security, which is vital to households and businesses.
"The CACOVID alliance is committed to the rebuilding and rehabilitation of all the 44 police stations destroyed in the unrest. More than half of the police stations are in Lagos; funds will be provided to rebuild these stations."
Emefiele further said bankers' committee had started to take stock of private businesses destroyed during the unrest, adding that those with existing loan facilities and those with no loan will be supported to come back on their feet.
#EndSARS: Govts must dialogue with youths -- APC govs insist
The Progressives Governors' Forum, PGF, yesterday, insisted that governments at all levels must dialogue with the youths to move the country forward.
The forum said this during a commiseration visit to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Marina over the recent destruction of public and private properties in the state during the #EndSARS protests.
It also commended Sanwo-Olu's leadership style and management of the #EndSARS protests.
Speaking to state House Correspondents, chairman of the Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu commended Sanwo-Olu for demonstrating good leadership qualities during the #EndSARS protests.
The delegation includes APC Caretaker Committee and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni; Chairman, Northern Governors' Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong and Governor Muhammed Badaru of Jigawa State.
Bagudu, who spoke on behalf of other APC governors, said the governors are committed to good governance and making life comfortable for youths in the country.
He said: "We want our young men and women to have fulfilling jobs and opportunities both locally and internationally. But this will take time with continuous engagement and dialogue.
"We come to encourage our colleagues and his team and to further show solidarity with people of Lagos that we are all in it together. Governor Sanwo-Olu showed us some of the pictures of the devastating damages that were caused by the violence. And it is very clear that violence does not solve any problem; it compounds it.
"Today Lagos has further taken a loss because of that violence.
"It is now clear that the wise people of Lagos and all of us have known better that yes, our young persons have the right to express their feelings.
"We have to dialogue with them. We have listened to them. But we also have to appreciate that we are in it all together."
Vanguard News Nigeria