#EndSARS: Don’t force us to return fire for fire, OPC warns hoodlums

•Demands enquiries on Lekki shooting

The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) on Friday called for an immediate stop to the destruction of lives and multi-billions of naira worth of property in the South-West, warning that, if the violence persisted, the organisation might be forced to roll out its men and guarantee security in the region.

OPC faction of late, Dr Frederick Fasehun led by Otunba Wasiu Afolabi aka Askari, gave the warning in a statement made available in Lagos, just as it lamented the Lekki Toll Gate killings and the subsequent wanton destruction of lives and property in the zone.

Afolabi, who is the deputy president of the group, therefore, called on the rioters to withdraw from the streets and end the era of violence.

OPC also called for President Muhammadu Buhari and Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu to immediately empanel commissions of enquiry at both the Federal and state levels to investigate, identify and sanction those behind Tuesday’s shooting of unarmed protesters at Lekki in Lagos.

The group said doing otherwise would amount to nurturing a licence-to-kill mentality in the nation’s military men and security operatives as well as open up the civilian citizenry to the abuse and impunity of those supposed to protect the people.

“Such a heinous crime must not be swept under the carpet; or else we shall be nurturing a licence-to-kill mentality in our military men and security operatives as well as open up our civilian citizenry to the abuse and impunity of those supposed to protect us,” OPC said.

OPC noted that the peaceful conduct of the #EndSARS protests had been hijacked by hoodlums who now found an opportunity to loot, cause mayhem and destroy the economic basis of the region.

“Private businesses, many of whom like OPC backed the highly credible #EndSARS campaign, should not suffer for the ineptitude of the government and the criminality of evil policemen. And OPC as an organisation will not fold its arms and watch the region turned into the scapegoat of the #EndSARS protests,” OPC chieftain said.

However, the organisation noted that every agitation must end on the negotiation table and time had come for campaigners to step back and see whether or not the government would fulfil its promise to end SARS and bring about massive reforms in the police.

“The #EndSARS campaigns got our unflinching support and we fully backed the protesters. Not only is it their legitimate and constitutionally-guaranteed right to express our collective pain, but indeed and in fact, that arm of the Nigeria Police had turned itself into an unruly terrorist clique with clear and verifiable abuses of citizens’ rights to life, movement and liberty. As citizens, those protesting had a duty to denounce SARS and FSARS operatives in order to prevent them from continuing their evil business as usual,” Afolabi said.

He, however, noted sadly that the current reality was that the destruction of businesses and tools of businesses amounted to a huge loss to the people of the South-West, adding: “Many of whom owned vandalised businesses, as well as those who were gainfully employed in those places, could end up losing their jobs.”

Afolabi said OPC would not tolerate a situation where South-West citizens became the biggest losers of the anti-SARS campaign.

Commiserating with citizens who lost relations, friends and property, he prayed that God would console them and restore their lost property.

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