Ekiti state government has claimed it sent soldiers to protest locations to keep the protesters safe.
This was made public by the Ekiti State Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Akin Omole after backlash from people accusing soldiers of dispersing protesters in the state.
Omole said the government deployed soldiers to #EndSARS protest locations in the state to protect the youths demonstrating against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
He also explained that the measure was taken to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the peaceful protests in the state.
Omole made this known in a statement on Monday night titled, ‘Ekiti Debunks Rumour Of Army Harassing Protesters In Ado Ekiti’.
The commissioner described reports “emanating from the social media that soldiers have taken over the Ado Ekiti, the state capital and chased protesters with guns as untrue and misleading.”
“Soldiers did not engage the protesters even as they barricaded most roads in the state capital throughout Monday.
“The soldiers were in the state to protect the people, including the protesters as well as to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful protest by hiding behind the demonstration to commit crime and harass innocent citizens,” he said.
“While the present administration in Ekiti recognizes and respects the right of peaceful assembly, and in fact, identifies with the people on the demand for good governance, all stakeholders must be mindful of the safety of all lives and both public and private properties in the State.
“Innocent law-abiding citizens should be allowed to go about their lawful businesses without hindrance while there must be due cognisance of the fact that willful destruction of properties will be detrimental to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people,” the commissioner added.
Omole noted that Governor Kayode Fayemi has set up a Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for victims of SARS and related abuses to investigate possible cases of police brutality in the state in line with the decision of the governors’ forum and the recommendation of the National Economic Council.
The #EndSARS protests rocking the country have continued for almost two weeks with youths calling for a lasting reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
Major highways have been blocked by the youths, thereby, causing gridlock and affecting economic activities.
Suspected hoodlums had also hijacked the #EndSARS campaign in some cities, wreaked havoc on citizens and vandalised public assets in Lagos, Benin, Abuja, amongst other major cities.