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“A nation can never win a battle against its own people,” – Former President Goodluck Jonathan on killing of #EndSARS protesters in Lagos

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Former president Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the use of deadly force on #EndSARS protesters in Lagos state in a statement issued.

Amnesty International accounts say 12 persons were killed when Nigerian soldiers opened fire at peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaze – while they sang to the Nigerian National anthem and waved the flags but the Nigerian Military said it is fake news despite evidence of a live-stream of the events.

In a statement on Thursday, Jonathan said such actions will only worsen the situation, calling on all parties to embrace dialogue.

Eyewitness at the Lekki Toll say Soldiers evacuated dead bodies after the killings while survivors fled but the actual number of persons killed is still shrouded in secrecy but the Lagos state Governor said 25 persons were injured.

Nationwide protests against the now-dissolved police special anti-robbery squad (SARS) metamorphosed into agitation for improved governance in addition to justice for victims of police brutality.

In the statement to newsmen, the former president said the event of recent days has been “a difficult time to me as well”.

He said the task of building a nation must involve both the old and the young, adding that Nigeria “cannot afford to lose the lives of our youth who we look up to take over leadership and continue our nation’s journey to greatness”.

“As leaders, we must understand that a nation can never win a battle against its own people,” he said.

“Thus, the use of deadly force against citizens only aggravates tense situations rather than assuage it. We must therefore move away from battlegrounds to middle grounds in our individual and national life. This, I believe, epitomises the essence of democracy.

“I condemn any unnecessary loss of life and urge efforts to be stepped up to ensure that there is no such reoccurrence.

“We all must accept that we are all brothers and sisters of one Nigeria, and always act towards each other accordingly” and urged security agencies to ensure maximum restraint is applied in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property.

The former President said, “nobody’s interest is worth the blood of any Nigerian citizen- give peace a chance especially now that different stakeholders have demonstrated the willingness to investigate the various allegations of excessive use of force on citizens and address the culture of impunity by security personnel”.

Thousands of Nigerians marched across cities within and outside Nigeria to demand an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and abuses.

The government announced the unit had been disbanded, but many Nigerians are skeptical, as officials have promised an end to the unit and its alleged abuses before.

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