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October 21, 2020

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Wike backtracks, addresses Port Harcourt protesters

3 min read

The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, on Tuesday, addressed protesters in front of the Government House, Port Harcourt, despite his ban on #EndSARS protest in the state.

The state government, in a statement on Monday, said it was needless for the people to go ahead with the #EndSARS protest since SARS has already been scrapped by the police.

The statement said law enforcement agencies have been directed to enforce the ban and “bring violators to book.”

Protesters, however, on Tuesday morning, marched to the Government House, where they presented their grievances against police brutality, to the Rivers State government.

They were addressed by Mr Wike who called for a “total” reform of the Nigeria police.

“If we do not reform the police, the same SARS officers will be deployed to other units of the force to continue their evil acts,” a statement from the Rivers government quoted Mr Wike as saying.

The statement was signed by the Commissioner for Information, Paulinus Nsirim.

“It is not only to end SARS,” the governor said. “Already, there is a pronouncement to scrap it. But every Nigerian should support the total reform of the Police.

“SARS cannot and has never been our friend in Rivers State. They killed a lecturer at Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic without a cause and people kept quiet.

“President Muhammadu Buhari said he will reform the Police. Let us be ready to hold him by his words,” the governor said.

Mr Wike said Rivers State does not play second fiddle and that the life of Rivers people matters to him. “I will continue to protect them,” he said.

“What we find in this country is that people play to the gallery. They hate people who speak the truth.

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“When we raised the alarm over the killings of Rivers people by SARS operatives, nobody listened to us as they said I was playing politics with it.

“No governor saw the need to speak out against that evil. That was because it was not happening in their states. Now the evil of SARS has touched them, they want everybody to join.

“What you are protesting against, I had campaigned against it long ago. If only they listened, we will not be protesting today,” he said.

ALSO READ: Wike bans #EndSARS protests in Rivers State

One of the protesters, Ejit Josiah, a programme officer with We the People, a civic group in Port Harcourt, told PREMIUM TIMES that the “overwhelming” number of people who participated in the protest was an indication that Governor Wike’s ban on protest in Rivers State “fell on deaf ears”.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday announced the “dissolution” of SARS, a police unit notorious for its brutality against innocent citizens.

The dissolution followed a nationwide protest and call for the scrapping of SARS.

Despite the police announcement, protesters have continued to march through the streets in various parts of the country.

The protests have generally been peaceful, except in some places where the police deployed force and fired live bullets and teargas to disperse protesters.



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