By DAPO FALADE
The Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday, ordered the closure of all schools in Ibadan, the state capital, in response to the increasing violent hijack of the ongoing #EndSARS protest.
He also restated his belief in peaceful protests as part of the democratic process and therefore announced the deployment of more officers of the state Operation Burst to protect protesting youths in hotspot areas of the state capital.
The governor made the order in a broadcast to the people of the state, noting that the step was taken to safeguard lives of school children and the people, as well as property.
“My dear people of Oyo State, I address you at this time to talk about some of the issues that have been thrown up by the #EndSARS protests in Oyo State.
“I have directed that all schools in Ibadan, should be closed from tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21 2020 for the rest of this week.
“The situation will be reviewed on Friday, October 23 2020, and then further directives will be given. Please call 615 should anyone attempt to disrupt your legitimate business activities.”
The governor restated his belief in peaceful protests as an important part of the democratic process and that no one should be harassed or brutalised for protesting.
“For this reason, we deployed members of Operation Burst to protect protesters. And we are happy to report that there have been no cases of disruptions of protest grounds in Oyo State since they started work.
“However, the past two days have seen a new dimension to the ongoing protests. Thugs and hoodlums have taken advantage of the situation to perpetrate uncivil acts and harass citizens who are going about their day-to-day activities.
“Some thugs are going as far as forcing people who have businesses open to close shop and join in the protests. We know these are criminal elements. And so, as a state, we must act to protect the citizenry.
“Therefore, we are deploying members of Operation Burst to various hotspots in Ibadan to arrest the situation and restore normalcy. The members of the team will continue to protect genuine protesters and their right to protest. But we can not allow persons with ulterior motives to hijack the protests.
“We remain committed to the process of meeting the demands of these protests. Already, as promised, the Director of Public Prosecution, Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, has withdrawn cases against #EndSARS protesters and those in custody have been released.
“Also, the Oyo State government has set up platforms for reporting past and present incidents of police brutality and injustice. This will naturally pave the way for the next steps in our quest to get justice for the victims.
“I urge the good people of Oyo State to trust the process that we have set up and rest assured that every case will be pursued to a logical conclusion,” he said.
The governor also assured that he would continue to seek ways to engage with peaceful protesters, adding; “Our plan is that in the shortest possible time, we can finally say the days of large-scale and wanton police brutality and injustice is a thing of the past.
“Let me also use this opportunity to call on members of the Nigeria Police Force to remain professional in the discharge of their duties as they will be held responsible for their actions.”
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