He recently revealed that he supported the protests because he has never been against peaceful protests that will lead to the resolution of our problems.
According to him, it was only wise for the government to focus on reasonable engagement rather than the use of force, and imposing curfew during the period would have only resulted in rebellion.
He added that he also told the protesters that they should not forget that they voted in a governor who will not stop listening to them.
His words, “The first major flash point in the #ENDSARS issue was Ogbomoso, where Isiaka Jimoh and two others were said to have lost their lives. The palace of the Soun of Ogbomosoland was also targeted by angry youths. That set the stage for other crises. How did you manage through all that? I had to make a statewide broadcast on Monday, October 19, 2020, to appeal for calm and lay out our position on the protests.
“I supported the protests and we made it clear that I was for peaceful protests. On Tuesday, I visited the palace of the Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, and I did not expect the level of destruction we witnessed there. I accept the fact that peaceful protest is legitimate, and it is guaranteed under our Constitution; but the type of destruction at the palace should not have happened. This is because the state government is not in control of SARS.
“Whereas they say the governor is the Chief Security Officer for the state, I always say we are not in control of the Commissioner of Police as governors. As governor, I am not in control of who they will post here as Commissioner. We just work with whoever we meet along the way. We made commitments to support the renovation of the palace and the repairs or replacement of the vehicles that were damaged – some of the vehicles were beyond repairs.”
“I also visited the families of the deceased and told them that there was no amount of money we could give that could replace the loss of their children. But I assured them that government will assist. We put up a team to meet with the families and explore ways of assistance on a sustainable basis beyond cash provision. When I returned from Ogbomoso later that evening, I addressed the protesters who had massed at the Secretariat here in Ibadan. Do you know that earlier, someone had suggested that we use force, but I said we could not use force because I went to these youths when I was looking for votes.
And I must say this, the approach we employed, which dwelt more on reasonable engagement rather than the use of force, has paid off greatly. This dovetails into our decision not to impose curfew, because we came to the informed conclusion that imposing a curfew at a period that tensions were high would only result into one thing, rebellion, and to check a rebellion, you may want to exert pressure or force which, in the end, will lead to whatever you wanted to avoid by imposing the curfew in the first place. Instead of imposing a curfew, we closed schools within Ibadan, the state capital – that was penultimate Wednesday – and I made it clear that the closure would be reviewed on Friday, October 23, 2020.
We did. And our pupils and students resumed last Monday. So, rather than use force, I reminded the protesters that they organised themselves and voted for me. And it was time for me to listen to them and ensure that whatever it is that they wanted done by our government, we would find a means to do it and we have stayed on that course. There was a problem at Iwo Road penultimate Thursday. We learnt that some policemen lost their lives in the mayhem and youths were hell-bent on torching police stations especially the Testing Ground… (Cuts in) That was unfortunate, very unfortunate; but we thank God that quick intervention prevented further loss of lives that day. I had a serious conversation with the Commissioner of Police.
This is also true for the police hierarchy. They were losing men and police stations and they needed to act. But I said we had to act with caution. It was difficult to understand what I was trying to say in the heat of things but they understood in the end and we agreed and proceeded with caution.
That is why the situation did not really go beyond what we saw. We deployed men of the ‘Operation Burst’ (a state-backed security outfit comprising soldiers, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Police) as a result of the new dimension the #EndSARS protests were taking, because we discovered that hoodlums had started taking advantage of the protests to harass citizens, perpetrate uncivil acts and disturb residents from carrying out their legitimate businesses. The outfit was also charged to take the responsibility of protecting peaceful protesters, while the police were told to step back from protest venues. When we heard that there were disturbances around Idi-Ape/Iwo Road axis, I had to go there myself.”
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