Former President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana has called on “all conscientious citizens of Africa” to condemn the bloodshed in Nigeria.
Mr Rawlings also urged the parties in the ongoing protests against police brutality “to move toward non-violent engagement” to reach a resolution.
“My heart goes out to #Nigeria and #Nigerians and I encourage all to move towards non-violent engagement. All conscientious citizens of Africa must condemn the bloodshed and call on all parties to act with integrity before the crisis gets out of control. We call for integrity and the circumspection of all personnel involved,” he tweeted on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.
Meanwhile, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for calm and the use of dialogue in resolving the ongoing violence and protest in Nigeria.
The Ghanaian President said he has spoken to his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has shown commitment to using dialogue to end the violence.
After incessant pressure from Ghanaians on social media, Nana Akufo-Addo, in a Facebook post, also expressed his condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives.
His post read: “I join all well-meaning persons in calling for calm, and the use of dialogue in resolving the #EndSARS impasse in Nigeria. I have spoken with President Buhari, who is committed to this end, and has begun the processes that will lead to reform. Violence, be it on the part of the Police or protesters, cannot be the solution. To the families who have lost their loved ones, I express my sincere condolences, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also enjoined the youth and civil society organisations of Nigeria to pursue dialogue to ensure an early and cordial resolution to the ongoing social unrest in order to safeguard its image as a peaceful state.
A statement issued on Wednesday, 21 October 2020, signed by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Jean Claude-Kassi Brou, said it has noted with “concern” that “demonstrations by Nigerian youth calling for police reform, particularly the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, accused of misconduct by those demonstrating, have turned violent.”
The Commission expressed its “condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives during the protests” and wished the “injured a speedy recovery.”
It continued that while it “recognises the right of citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protests, it is also of the view that those rights should be exercised in a non-violent manner.”
The Commission also called “on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations” and urged the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally.
“ECOWAS Commission further notes that, in an effort to address the demands of the protesting youth, the Federal Government of Nigeria took important decisions regarding disbandment of SARS, comprehensive police reforms and investigation of cases of police brutality. It encourages the Nigerian Authorities to conduct the investigation rapidly”.
It also appealed to the “Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian youth and the civil society to urgently pursue dialogue for an early and amicable resolution of this social unrest and maintain the Nigerian image as a bastion of law and order.”
The youth in Nigeria began seeking an end to police brutality meted out to citizens ‘unlawfully’ by an anti-robbery wing of the Nigerian Police Force known as SARS.
The youth hit the streets in separate protests to press home demands for the dissolution and restructuring of the police and governance systems in general.
The protests extended to social media, through which the attention of the international media and other international figures have been drawn.
On Tuesday, 20 October 2020, in Lagos State, a 4 pm curfew was imposed.
However, unrelenting protesters were still found on grounds.
In Lekki, one of the urban parts of Lagos, armed men clad in military uniform stormed the place and opened fire on the unarmed protestors who hoisted Nigerian flags, amidst chants of the Nigerian national anthem.
About 78 deaths were confirmed dead from the shooting incident.
Several lives and properties have been lost in the impasse, while world leaders and public figures continue to call for calm.