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Following the recent EndSARS protest where thousands of Nigerian youths marched against police brutality, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-general Amina Mohammed has dismissed the point that the EndSARS protests were triggered by complaints against police brutality.
She said the protests were the compounding effects of a frustrating COVID-19 pandemic.
She said this on Monday following separate meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House on Monday.
The deputy Secretary-General said, “I have to say that there are lots of protests around this world that have been exacerbated by COVID because, COVID has left people out of work, left people hopeless because of the socio-economic impact and in many of those protests.”
The former Nigerian environment minister dismissed criticism of the government’s response to the protests, praising the government for their prompt response and acceptance of the protesters’ conditions.
“We have not seen governments turn around in response as quickly as this government did,” she said.
Following her premise that the protests were triggered by the adverse effect s of the pandemic, Ms. Muhammed said that the protests would be the building blocks to see the needed reforms for security and rebuild trust between government and the people.
“The UN stance is clear, like the UN Secretary General had said in his speech. We believe everyone has a right to demonstrate peacefully for those issues they want to raise with their government.
“There is a social contract in place between the government and the people, and it is important to have that freedom of speech, provided it is done peacefully.
“I think in the case where we heard that lives and property were lost, it was unfortunate and we believe that in addressing the demands that were made by young people, that in fact this is perhaps a lesson we can take into the future and how we engage in such issues.
“I have to say that there are lots of protests around this world that have been exacerbated by COVID because, COVID has left people out of work, left people hopeless because of the socio-economic impact and in many of those protests, we have not seen governments turn around in response as quickly as this government did.
“So, the UN’s response to this is that, we must make sure that what happened in this protests we are able to address those issues, those gaps and begin the reform, in fact I will say the transformations that are needed to address many of these outstanding issues and for that we need to engage youths, we need to engage government.
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