The Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has aired his side of the story on the controversial Zoom meeting held with some stakeholders and popular figures fronting the #EndSARS protest.
The protest against the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police has been on since Friday.
The largely peaceful demonstrations were held in the Federal Capital Territory, Osun, Lagos, Kwara, Kogi, Oyo and some states across the country.
In the heat of the protest, a virtual meeting aimed at curtailing the protest was held on Zoom, a video conferencing app.
Amongst the participants were Africa’s richest, Aliko Dangote; Chairperson of UBA Group, Tony Elumelu; CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Governor Okowa of Delta State; Kwara State Governor and popular hip-hop artiste, Ayodeji Balogun, also known as Wizkid.
Others include human rights activist, Aisha Yesufu; a UK-based lecturer, Dipo Awojide and a media entrepreneur, Debola Williams.
The meeting was ,however, met with heavy criticism from many Nigerians on social media, accusing some of the participants of betraying the struggle.
Narrating what transpired at the meeting, Mrs Yesufu said the businessmen wanted the protest quelled but the youth in attendance stood their ground.
“The Business Coalition for COVID19 had a zoom session on the #SASMUSTEND and I was SHOCKED at the sentiments of our so-called business leaders. I literally told them off. I told them It is the President and the Police that are the problem and not the Nigerian young people fed up with selfish leaders. It is not the protesters that are perpetrators, it is the police and government that are perpetrators,” Mrs Yesufu defended on Twitter.
Kwara Governor speaks
After walking along with hundreds of #EndSARS protesters to the police headquarters in Ilorin, the state capital, Mr AbdulRazaq acknowledged the grievances of the protesters.
Addressing the protesters at the state police headquarters, the governor said the young people have spoken loud and clear and would have their interest protected by the government.
He, however, confessed that he, a few governors and some businessmen recently held a zoom meeting with some individuals involved in the protest movement following which their five-point demands were forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“However you look at it, we are all victims. I have since joined the protest. Some of you may notice online that I joined a Zoom meeting on Monday with Hajia Aisha Yesufu, Aliko Dangote, Wizkid and others to arrive at a resolution on this protest. It was part of this that led to the five-point agenda which is being implemented now by the federal government. The President is definitely listening to the complaints,” Mr AbdulRazaq said.
He said the president was already acting on the five-point demands of the protesters whose activities particularly in Kwara, the governor said, have remained peaceful and largely coordinated.
He further urged the protesters to remain calm and peaceful while their grievances are promptly addressed.
He also announced the setting up of an ombudsman through which people can channel their grievances and have the same attendance in the state.
Mr AbdulRazaq said the ombudsman would be the go-between for aggrieved citizens and security agencies.
Kwara State Police Commissioner, Kayode Egbetokun, who also addressed the protesters, commended them for being peaceful and said specific officers mentioned by the protesters would be investigated.
“I want to assure you that the Nigerian Police is with the youth. We have heard your report against some of our officers. I want to implore you to report anything against the police in this state to me directly. I assure you that action will be taken,” Mr Egbetokun said.