Buhari speaks against violent use of force by security officials

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President Muhammadu Buhari during the maiden National Youth Day celebration on Sunday asked security agencies to desist from the use of violent force against innocent citizens’ particularly young people.

The president in his message at the event which took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja assured that he would not lift his hand to stop or suppress the youth in the country.

Speaking against the recent occurrence as regards the protests against police brutality in the country which led to the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the president who was represented by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammad Bello told the gathering that the pleas of Nigerian youths had been heard by his administration.

“No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.

“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.

“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.

“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,’’ he said.

However, the youth were urged to end the street protests and not be afraid to ideally make their request known.

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The president said the Federal Government ‘‘now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas,’’ from the youth, while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.

“You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you. ‘’However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.

“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you have come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.

“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.

“As youth, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour,’’ he said.

He further went on to talk about the initiatives put in place for the youth as he describes them (youth) as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development.

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“Today we will unveil the official logo of the N75billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020 to 2023.

“This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian youths and to provide our youths with a special window to access much -needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise,’’ he said.

In his remark, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said the occasion was to showcase the 10 winners of the 60-day app challenge competition and five young innovators in different fields to the world.

As regards the #EndSARS protests, Dare said: “Already, that change has begun. What is needed is to deepen the youth initiatives and accelerate the onboarding of beneficiaries in a transparent and effectual manner. Nigeria must license a new tribe of youth investment banks with single digit loans dedicated to our youth. Through the NYIF, the Federal Government has set the tone and leading the way.”

On police brutality, the minister said: “In my opinion, no institution meant to protect Nigerians should be allowed to be distorted in too many instances to torment Nigerians. Once a good and functional ideal, SARS became a burden on the people.

“Police brutality is neither a hallmark of democracy nor is it the stamp of this administration. Yet, something went wrong. Your courage and commitment to organise and then carry out peaceful protests brought this grave issue to the attention of the highest levels of this government.”

“Here, it is important to continue to act based on the premise that we all want the best for Nigeria and that the other person is motivated by good faith.” The occasion witnessed the disbursement of the sum of N12.5 million to youth innovators.

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