National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, says he’s not sponsoring the #EndSARS movement protesting against police brutality nationwide.
Nigerians, particularly youths, have continued to barricade major roads across the country to drive home their demand to dissolve the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police force, accused of brutality and extra-judicial killings.
Despite the dissolution of the notorious unit by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the protesters have not ceased their protests.
They are demanding the total reformation of the force and justice for victims of police.
According to a statement by Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, on Sunday, a report on an online medium had quoted one Professor Alexander Adebisi to have accused the APC chieftain of sponsoring the protests in Lagos.
Rahman described the accusation as “fake news”, adding that the medium quoted for the report is fake.
He noted that Tinubu could not have sponsored the #EndSARS movement that has labelled him as a target.
The spokesman also stated that the ruling party’s national leader believes in the right of Nigerians to freedom of expression, assembly, and protest.
According to Rahman, the former governor of Lagos believes that SARS’ brutality and untoward conduct against innocent youths and other Nigerians have gone on “for too long” and that security outfit ought to be disbanded as demanded by the protesters.
He said Tinubu also believes that it’s time for the youths to wait, exercise restraint for dialogue and police reform to commence.
“We have seen a fake and unfounded report by an app. company Opera.com, claiming an equally fake online medium ThisNigeriaNow.com had published an interview by one Professor Alexander Adebisi allegedly accusing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of sponsoring the #EndSARS protest in Lagos,” the statement said.
“Our preliminary investigation has revealed that ThisNigeriaNow.com is a fake online medium. The ThisNigeria.com that we know is owned by prominent journalist Eric Osagie. Contacted on the report, Osagie distanced his medium from any such interview.
“Also, there is no such Professor Alexander Adebisi in the Department of History and International Relations of the University of Ibadan. If, however, there is any such professor, he would be a disgrace to the academia and particularly the University of Ibadan because professors as intellectuals are supposed to act on the basis of facts. No university don deserving of that name would grant an interview or volunteer a comment without facts, talk less cast aspersion on anyone’s integrity, not in the least that of Asiwaju Tinubu.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored Opera.com that has been used to disseminate this fake interview by a fake Prof. Adebisi and published by a fake online medium, because Opera.com is not a news organisation that could be taken seriously.
“However, there is a need to set the facts and record straight for fear that such a fake story by a dubious medium may be taken on its face value by some unwary and gullible persons.
“Number one, as it has been stated elsewhere, Asiwaju Tinubu could not have sponsored the #EndSARS protest that has blocked one of the main entries into and out of Lagos and one of the economic arteries of the Lagos State Government. He could also not have sponsored such a protest where he too has been labeled a target by the organisers.
“Secondly, whereas Asiwaju Tinubu believes in the right of Nigerians to freedom of expression, assembly, and protest where and when necessary, he has always canvassed the need for people to explore peaceful channels to ventilate their views and demands.
“He believes the #EndSARS protesters have made their demands, which the Federal Government is studying.
“Like most Nigerians, Asiwaju believes that SARS’ brutality and untoward conduct against innocent youths and other Nigerians have gone on for too long and that security outfit ought to be disbanded as demanded by the protesters.
“He believes the police force deserves urgent reform and reorganization. Mercifully, President Buhari has disbanded SARS, saying the dissolution of the security outfit is the first step in the reform of the police force. These reforms seem to have begun with the empowerment of state governors to take charge of the tactical commands of the police in their various states.
“Asiwaju Tinubu believes it’s now time for our youths to wait, exercise restraint for dialogue and reform to commence.
“It is therefore the height of illogicality to ascribe the sponsorship of the protest to Asiwaju. The sponsors of this fake news forget that the protest is so widespread and cuts across the country. So is it then possible that Asiwaju is also sponsoring the protests in all the states of the federation where it has occurred? The fabricators of the spurious allegations are inadvertently ascribing non-existent superhuman powers to Asiwaju. This is as absurd as it is inconceivable, false in its entirety, and a figment of warped convoluted minds. It should be totally discarded.”