Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has narrated his painful ordeal in the hands of men of the Nigerian Police Force.
The governor recounted his ordeal while speaking in Ado Ekiti, the state capital on Sunday,during an interactive session organised by stakeholders’ on the recent #EndSARS protests across the country.
Fayemi said he was brutalised and teargassed by the police in the build up to the 2014 governorship election in the state, saying the experience left a sore in his heart.
The governor was allegedly brutalised by the then Commander of Police Mobile Force in Ado-Ekiti, Gabriel Selenkere, during the symbolic sweeping of roads that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members passed through during their rally.
The alleged police action led to the death of a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Taiwo Akinsola.
Fayemi said he would continue to join hands with Nigerians to take the youths’ #EndSARS agitations serious, noting that the case of police brutality was one issue that affects every facet of the society.
“I am a victim of police brutality myself. You could all recall what happened to me during my election of 2014. But some policemen had also rendered good services to me, so not all of them are bad,” he said.
Describing the youths as the engine room of the nation’s economy, Fayemi stated that there was need for the governments to partner the youths for sustainable peace and development.
“The #EndSARS protest was a noble course. It was supported here in Ekiti not because of those involved, but for the reason behind the action which we believe would help the police to do their job effectively.
“The youth protest in Ekiti was well intentioned and peaceful. Right to peaceful protest is an inalienable right. For the first time we have panel of inquiries at every level of government to tackle our issues. We must not resort to violence as a solution to our agitations. We must all speak in unison against violence as we did in unison against Police brutality.
“Our youth are angry , because as they were coming out of closure of schools over Coronavirus pandemic , they entered into ASUU strike, then there is hunger in the land and the harsh economic situation in our country.
“The government has done many intervention programmes and had proscribed SARS and introduced youth investment fund and many others as a response to the youth agitations.
“I commiserate with the families of those who paid the supreme price. We identify with them. The panels that we set up will look into the reasons behind the protest and how best to address the issues raised, because #EndSARS protest had placed a moral burden on all of us that we must be vigilant.
“Our police must be motivated to do well. Policemen must be well remunerated . There must be good motivation for the police to be able to to discharge their duties effectively,”Fayemi added.
In his remarks, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari would listen and implement all the demands made by the youths during the #EndSARS protest.
“The purpose why we are here today is that, all the Ministers working under President Buhari got a presidential order to hold interactions with the people . Mr President listens to people. He wanted to use this interaction to feel the pulse of all Nigerians .
“We appreciate Governor Fayemi for setting up a panel to inquire about police brutality and other issues that are connected . As your representative at FEC, I will continue to do my best to represent Ekiti well,” Adebayo said.
He advised youths to always apply for any youth-oriented programmes being rolled out by the federal government and stop having the erroneous impression that they won’t be enlisted as beneficiary
“Apply first and see what happens,” Adebayo added.
Contributing, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 17, comprising Ondo and Ekiti States, Mr. David Folawiyo, said the #EndSARS protest had actually exhumed fundamental issues indicative of the rots in the system.
He said:”Ultimate power belongs to the masses, especially the youth. The #EndSARS agitations didn’t state that the police were bad, but they said the SARS operatives were bad. We agreed that there were bad eggs in the SARS but in most cases people were the ones requesting for SARS services.
“We know that we have to restructure the police and that will be done. But we should all work together to make the police effective. We should all be patriotic and once we have this spirit, there won’t be SARS again. The police must be well equipped and ultimately, we must all collaborate to end SARS”.
Also, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria(NYCN), Mr. Eyitayo Fabunmi, called for total reform of the Police, so that they can be more professional and civil in the discharge of their duties.
“It is high time we concentrated more on building the youths. The universities are churning out graduates on yearly basis without jobs and our leaders are unconcerned, if they are unconcerned we are concerned as victims.
“The ministries of youth at the federal and state levels must be well funded to be able to tackle issues relating to youths. Governments can replicate Youth Trust Fund to empower youth population. National Youth Investment Fund should also be localised to be in all the councils for better accessibility. The politicians should also open their doors for the youths and perceive us as collaborators rather than antagonists,” Fabunmi said.
Those at the event include Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi; Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye; Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Oba Adebanji Alabi; Chief Imam of Ekiti and President League of Alfas! Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, traditional rulers, youth groups and security organisations.