Rauf Olaniyan, the deputy governor of Oyo State, has said that he has been a victim of police brutality in the past.
Mr Olaniyan made this declaration while addressing #EndSARS protesters in Ibadan, the state capital on Tuesday.
He declared his interest to joined the protest against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“I stand with the #EndSARS protesters because I have twice been a victim of police brutality,” Mr Olaniyan said.
“Now is the time for police reform. Now is the time to end police brutality.”
‘Peaceful protest guaranteed’
Meanwhile, the state governor, Seyi Makinde, has said that peaceful protests are guaranteed by the constitution of the land.
Makinde stated this while addressing the protesters, who converged on the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
He, however, added that the ongoing protests must continue to be peaceful and constructive in order to achieve the desired result.
He promised to get all protesters who were arrested in the course of the protests released by the police, while also pledging to ensure that no further life is lost to the protests in the state, as according to him, his government has put in place mechanisms to ensure the safety of protesters.
Makinde, who was accompanied by the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Adebowale Ogundoyin and commissioner for youth and sports, Seun Fakorede, added that beyond the #EndSARS protests, there were underlying challenges of anger and frustration in the land.
“I can tell you that all of these protests are not just about SARS. There is a need for employment for the youths. There is anger in the land. Job opportunities are few and far in-between. So, as leaders, we have to do more. Our youths have to be productive. We have to create opportunities for you.
“Peaceful protest is guaranteed under our constitution, but I want to beg you, all of the protesters that have been detained will be released. I have spoken with the commissioner of police and the attorney-general of the state.
“But we cannot do some of the good things we have in an atmosphere of chaos. I have listened to you. I have the commissioner for youths here. He will see and engage with your leaders.
“First, I would have been with you earlier but I had to go to Ogbomoso. I went out there to see things for myself. I visited the Kabiyesi and also met with the families that lost their loved ones. So, what I am saying is, I am with you 101 per cent.
“I want to thank you because you are Nigerian youths and you are not lazy. You are not violent; you did not vandalise anything. What you have done is to show peacefully that certain policies of government, especially the brutality by the Nigeria Police Force should be addressed.”
He stated that his government would follow the path of constructive engagement to diffuse the tension in the land.
The governor further reiterated that he does not want any further loss of life, warning, however, that everyone must behave responsibly.
“As a government in Oyo State, we have to find the means to diffuse the tension. And one of the things we have in view is to follow the path of constructive engagement and there has to be a way to get that engagement going.
“The President and the IGP said SARS has been disbanded. In Oyo State, hold me responsible and accountable. I don’t want any further loss of lives. All of us must take that responsibility to behave responsibly.
“We will have to find a way to engage ourselves. There will be palliatives that the Oyo State government will roll out within the next one week. All the stakeholders must find a means to get people who will represent them. There is no way we can have any meaningful discussion in an atmosphere of chaos.
“When somebody said we should use force, I said we cannot use force, because I came to you when I was looking for votes. You organised yourselves and voted for me. And it is now time for me to listen to you and ensure that whatever it is that you want done by your government, we will find a means to do it.
“But the major relevant issue is that we need to provide employment, means of livelihood for our youth and, on that, I am with you. I identify with you. And collectively, we will make our state and country better”.