ENDSARS MEMORIAL: ‘DEAL WITH ROOT CAUSE OF AGITATION’ – VALENTINE OZIGBO CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT AS HE MEETS SOME ANAMBRA PROTEST LEADERS
Valentine Ozigbo, the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2021 Anambra governorship election, has urged the Federal Government to address the root cause of the #EndSARS protests as youths around the country commemorate one year since the deadly attack on peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate.
On October 20, 2020, a combined team of military operatives and police officers attacked young Nigerians protesting police brutality at the Lekki Toll Gate. Human rights groups reported at least fifteen people who lost their lives and several others who suffered injuries.
To mark one year of the tragic event, Teta (Wake Up), a group made up of leaders of the #EndSARS protest in Anambra State, invited the governorship candidates of major political parties who are likely to win the November 6 governorship election for an interactive session.
In an interactive session with Mr Ozigbo, Teta leaders lamented the inability of the Willie Obiano-led government to follow through with the judicial panel of inquiry set up to investigate cases of police brutality and extra-judicial killings in the state.
Ozigbo applauded Tete for the initiative and affirmed his stand with the #EndSARS protesters. Recall that in 2020, Ozigbo was the only aspirant who spoke up against police brutality and the injustices faced by the youth. In a video, which has now gone viral, the respected business mogul applauded the youth and called for an end to human rights abuses.
“Your demands are legitimate, and I am solidly behind you. I was physically present at the Lekki Toll Gate protests last year because I feel your pain. I work with many young people, and I receive reports of their experiences with security agents,” Ozigbo said.
“While your demands are legitimate, I also think it is essential for us to deal with the root cause of this problem. Nigeria needs restructuring, and this includes our security apparatus.
“I firmly believe that if we implement state police, we will significantly improve our security operations and create competition between state police formations trying to outperform each other.
“Our security operatives also need proper training and not just improved remuneration because increasing the salary of an unstable individual will not eliminate the chances of unfortunate behaviour.
“This is why the youth must take a stand and become active players in politics and not just tools for the elites. In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan put together the National Conference where leaders deliberated and came up with solutions to Nigeria’s problems.
“Unfortunately, the APC government has refused to implement the recommendations of that conference, which includes restructuring the country and our security system.
“2023 is around the corner, and the youths have the opportunity to vote in PDP, the only major party that has demonstrated commitment to implementing the 2014 conference report,” Ozigbo added.
Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, promised to ensure that his administration looks into Tete’s demands if elected into office.
In the heat of the #EndSARS protest, Governor Willie Obiano had on October 14, 2020, pledged a compensation of N200 million victims of police brutality and set up the panel a few days later. One year after, there is no record of any compensation being paid and the panel of enquiry has not yielded tangible result.
While speaking, one of the leaders of Teta, Chijioke Ifediora, Esq, revealed the demands of the group, which includes compensation of the victims of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, setting up an Anambra State security trust fund to cater to the welfare of security agencies, and the reform of the Anambra State Office of the Public Defender for access to justice for victims.
Ifediora stated that the group’s goal is to secure the commitment of the governorship candidates and partner with their prospective governments to achieve the demands.
Valentine Ozigbo is one of the few global Kaizen champions and through his namesake charity, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation, empower young Nigerians through business grants, competitions, and training in leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology. Since its inception, the VCO Foundation has impacted the lives of over 300,000 people in Anambra through various social and economic interventions.
Ozigbo, who is considered the favourite to win the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial election, has consistently ensured that youths play a significant role in his political activities.