[By VICTOR NZE]
Barely 24 hours after the Governor Seyi Makinde directed operatives of the Nigeria police to take a back seat and away from the frontline so as to allow #EndSARS protesters to have a peaceful campaign, Ibadan, the state capital went viral as a huge crowd turned up for Tuesday’s protests.
This is also soldiers of the Nigerian Army and personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) mingled jovially with protesters in a show of solidarity.
Other security operatives looked to provide cover for the protesters who were peaceful in their conduct.
Seyi Makinde, Monday, barred operatives of the Nigeria police from frontline of protest grounds, even as he directed other security agencies in the state to deploy to maintain law and order as well as secure lives and property.
The governor also demanded that protesters who are championing the #ENDSARS protest must remain peaceful so as not to negatively affect the peace of the state.
Makinde made the declarations in a state broadcast aired by the network service of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Monday afternoon.
According to the governor, security agencies excluding the Nigerian police, have been deployed by the state government to take the frontline in securing the #ENDSARS protesters and to maintain the peace.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde equally assured the state that he will do everything within his powers to ensure “no further lives are lost.”
He further stated that while peaceful protesters must not be hurt in the process, protesters must also remain peaceful as they make their legitimate grievances known to government.
“The past few days have been ones of grief for the people of Oyo State. I cannot imagine the pain and frustration of the parents and families of those who have died or are hospitalised as a result of the actions of the Nigeria Police Force during these End SARS protests.
“As I stated clearly, in my earlier statement, peaceful protests are a legitimate way for citizens to make their grievances known to the government and it is totally unacceptable for anyone to be hurt during such protests.
“Last night, I held an emergency meeting with the heads of the main security agencies in Oyo State. I have again restated my position on the ongoing protests to them. And we have agreed that the police should take a back seat as other security agencies take the frontlines in securing the lives of protesters, at this time.”
The governor stated that as of Sunday, operatives of the state-backed security outfit, Operation Burst, had been deployed to Ogbomoso to keep the peace and ensure that protesters will neither be harassed nor brutalised.
He urged residents of the state to go about their businesses without fear.
“Therefore, we have deployed members of Operation Burst to the hot spots, especially Ogbomoso, to ensure that as people protest, they will not be harassed or brutalised.
“I want to reassure the good people of Oyo State, that I am doing everything within my power, to ensure that no further lives are lost.
“I urge all residents of Oyo State to go about their activities without fear.
“To the protesters, I say, you can please continue to protest peacefully.
“These are trying times for all of us and I pray that God continues to guide us and give us wisdom to navigate through them,” Governor Makinde said.