Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, says President Muhammadu Buhari tolerated the “excesses” of the #EndSARS protesters, no nation in the world would accept that.
Speaking on Wednesday when he featured on Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, Malami said Buhari was “lenient” with the #EndSARS protesters, despite what he referred to as the “violations and destruction” which resulted from the crisis that followed the demonstrations.
In October 2020, Nigerian youths took to the streets in many parts of the country to protest against police brutality, while calling for the disbandment of the now-defunct special anti-robbery squad (SARS).
The protests were initially peaceful, until hoodlums infiltrated the demonstrations, resulting in loss of lives and destruction of properties.
According to Malami, no nation in the world would tolerate the destruction of its security institutions, adding that “over 200 policemen were killed in the process of the purported freedom of expression”.
“I think the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been very, and indeed extraordinarily, lenient with the human rights protection and that was indeed what caused the problems associated with the violations of the #EndSARS protests,” he said.
“Take for example: no nation in the world could have tolerated a situation whereby over 200 of its policemen were killed in the purported process of freedom of expression. Nigeria has tolerated that.
“No nation in the world could have tolerated the idea of destruction to its security institutions. I think over 20 police stations or more — I’m not certain about the number, they can be more — were destroyed during #EndSARS protests and government has a responsibility to ensure protection of lives and freedom of movement.
“We are confronted with a situation whereby #EndSARS protesters blocked roads, caused mayhem, caused deaths, caused destruction, and they were significantly tolerated to a certain extent.”
The attorney-general argued that it is logical to conclude that Buhari protected human rights, owing to how the president “accommodated and tolerated the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters”.
“I think it is only logical for one to conveniently, logically and justifiably conclude that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown greater zeal in terms of protection, and indeed given accommodation to human rights, to the extent of perhaps accommodating the excesses, which ordinarily ought to have been engaged and confronted squarely,” Malami added.
“As far as the human rights record of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned, the facts speak for itself.
“International commendation; local compliance with the recommendation of the national human rights commission which has been unprecedented; tolerance, and indeed, accommodation of the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters, were all facts that go to establish a point that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown greater accommodation of human rights violations.”