The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, condemns in very strong terms the unwarranted shooting and killing of unarmed protesters by security men in different parts of the country.
The Guild demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should address the nation to calm frayed nerves. There is nothing wrong with actively engaging in dialogue with the aggrieved youths.
The Guild in a statement sympathises with the victims of the shootings and their families and calls for full-scale investigation of Tuesday’s mayhem across the nation, especially the killings and injuries inflicted on protesters at the Lekki, Toll Plaza in Lagos, where security personnel shot and killed some unarmed protesters before the commencement of curfew at 9 pm.
The Guild notes that there was no need whatsoever for security personnel to use live bullets and therefore, demands that those found culpable should be brought to justice.
The NGE is worried over the dramatic turn the #EndSARS peaceful protests have taken.
The body of editors welcomes the curfew imposed on some states following the apparent hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests by hoodlums. The Guild commends the efforts of these state governments to separate the wheat from the chaff.
It notes that the restriction of movement in parts of the country does not give law enforcers any right to harass and intimidate persons on essential duties, especially journalists who are on the frontline in the discharge of their constitutional duty of gathering, processing and disseminating information.
“The Guild will not tolerate the harassment of such journalists. They should be allowed unfettered access to places of interest to them as they strive under this atmosphere of insecurity to carry out their legitimate responsibilities,” the statement said.
The Guild also advises journalists to be security conscious in these trying times.
According to the Guild, the apparent hijack of the protests by hoodlums should not be used as an excuse by the government not to address the legitimate demands of the #EndSARS protesters.
The Guild also condemns the attacks on security personnel, their facilities, public infrastructure and private businesses and calls on government to rein in the miscreants hiding under the #EndSARS protests to perpetrate mayhem on innocent Nigerians.
“The body of editors commends the state governments that have set up panels of enquiry to investigate allegations of police brutality, especially the atrocities committed by operatives of the now- disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
“Government should take urgent steps to reform the entire security architecture of the nation.
“The Guild urges the Nigerian government to show urgency and openness in meeting the demands of the Nigerian youths.
“The Guild appeals to the protesters to give the government benefit of the doubt at this time by opting henceforth for dialogue, to avoid further escalation of the blood-letting and brigandage which some misguided miscreants have introduced to what started as a very peaceful exercise,” the statement stressed.