Victims of the #EndSARS protests would get justice, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured.
Those who lost loved ones and properties in the mayhem that trailed the protests would also be served justice, the President said.
He urged Nigerians to maintain peace and order to avoid the dire consequences of vandalism on economy.
“Looting and vandalism will hurt trade and investment growth in our country – both large and small industries, as well as our hardworking people in the informal sectors of the economy,” the President said.
The justice system, he said, serves recompense to all who have killed, raped, robbed, committed arson and other forms of criminalities in the last few days.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu, the President Buhari explained why he had refrained from speaking on the Lekki Toll Gate incident because of the ongoing investigations.
According to him, he wanted all facts to have been assembled before making any comments.
He stressed the importance of the police and other security agencies to move everywhere to restore calm and normalcy as quickly as possible.
The President, however, expressed his full support for the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State government.
He expressed optimism that the panel, billed to begin sitting today, will assist the nation in giving justice to peaceful protesters who lost their lives, security operatives who were murdered and property owners, whose assets were vandalised and looted.
Buhari appealed to Nigerians to maintain peace and brotherhood as the machinery of government and the wheel of justice turn against the perpetrators of murder, arson, stealing, rape, assault and malicious damage to public and private property.
He reiterated that that peace, brotherhood, and inter-communal harmony remain central to “our ethos”, urging Nigerians “not to turn against one another in hate.”
The President assured that his administration would not relent in working hard through many pragmatic ways to reduce the hardship of the millions of our unemployed, poor citizens and those whose lives have been thrown into disarray by the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He warned that resort to widespread attacks and the organised looting and plundering of public and private property in many states are inimical to public good and stand condemned.
The statement reads: “A government that has launched a massive crackdown on corruption, brought in strong laws for a decisive battle against corruption, pursues loot recovery at home and abroad, and taken strong decisions against those who thought they were above the law, will not fold its arms when an otherwise legitimate and peaceful protest is turning into free-for-all vandalism and looting.
“While the administration has, for its part, blocked so many means of looting public money in a war against corruption, it is the expectation that all civil authorities, community and religious leaders in the country must rise against the organized looting and plunder we are witnessing in parts of the country.
“Families must turn back children who bring home unaccounted goods, in the same way wives must ask their husbands to return looted items brought home.”
Speaking on the ongoing breakdown of order in parts of the country, the widespread looting and other forms of criminal activities, President Buhari noted that these have the capacity to further destroy the economy as foreign investors would not be eager to bring their resources to an unsafe and disorderly environment.
He said: “What is more is that criminal actions as we have so far witnessed, can weaken and erode the confidence of our people and that of foreign businesses in investing in the economy.
“These incidents do not reflect well on any society. They are wrong and condemnable and should not be supported by reasonable members of the society.”
President Buhari commended the decision of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to prosecute 229 suspects arrested by the police for allegedly using the #EndSARS protest to destroy and loot public and private property.
The statement further reads: “As mentioned in two successive statements on the issues, the President and his administration have taken note of the grievances of the people.
“We have heard you loud and clear and have shown a clear determination to take all necessary measures to address the complaints. The violence must stop.”
President Buhari also condemned hate messages and eviction notices to ethnic and religious groups, asking Nigerians to take pride in the fact that our diverse people have been living with one another in harmony for ages.
“The right of all citizens to live and work in any part of the country is a constitutional right and will be defended by the government,” the President said.