*Says Buhari did not exhaust available options
By Myke Uzendu, Abuja
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that President Muhammadu Buhari did not exhaust all available options for dialogue before deploying military force to quell protests at the Lekki tollgate on Tuesday.
He said that the demands of the protesters were not unrealistic, adding that using violence to quench protests only escalates the situation and closes all avenue for dialogue.
Obasanjo made his position known in a statement titled, ‘Statement on Violence Against Protesters In Nigeria: An Appeal for Calm’ which he issued on Wednesday.
The former President called on Buhari to “restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of ending the crisis.”
The former President said, “The shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation, has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration. Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.
“It is clear that Mr President and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resorting to the use of force.”
Obasanjo lamented that despite overwhelming evidence showing military shootings, the authorities were still denying killing protesters.
The former President said, “It is worse that there is a denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control.
“We are at a critical moment in this crisis and the President must act now before it is too late. This time demands leadership and mature leadership at such.”
He said most of the demands made by the #EndSARS protesters which had been conveyed to the President by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State were not unrealistic.
Obasanjo added that these demands could be implemented without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened.
The former President said, “It is imperative that leaders at all levels, starting with Mr President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice is served where it must be served. These are the potent ways of ending this crisis now.”
The former President also called on the youths to give peace a chance, adding that the destruction and looting must stop.