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#ENDSARS: We will march with you shoulder to shoulder; Defend Lagos assures Sanwo-Olu

Defend Lagos Coalition, an amalgamation of over 60 civil society organisations formed following the destruction of Lagos on October 21, 2020, has assured the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu of its readiness to walk with the governor during his planned Lagos Peace Walk just as it warned that unseen forces hiding behind the #ENDSARS campaign, have not relented in their plans to further cripple the state. The Coalition gave the assurance and the warning at a press conference on issues connected with the #ENDSARS protests and its aftermath held at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja on Friday. The Coalition represented by Comrade Nelson Ekujumi of the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), Declan Ihekaire of Activists for Good Governance, Gbenga Soloki of the Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV),  Dayo Ogunlana of Coalition of Oodua Self determination Groups (COSEG) and Elijah Ajanu- Ojo of Ideal Society Movement at the press conference said it would resist every attempt to destroy the state. Speaking, Ekujumi recalled that the Defend Lagos Coalition had previously warned that forces with scores to settle with some political gladiators in Lagos had hijacked the genuine struggle of the #ENDSARS protest and used it to destroy the state on October 21, 2020. “Indeed, we are experienced enough to know when there is a struggle in which some innocent ones are being used and manipulated by unseen forces with a different unspoken agenda. We began to warn at the level of our organisations immediately the #5for5 Demands of the ENDSARS Movement began to be granted by the Federal government, and a new demand for the disbandment of government at all levels was then made,“ Ekujumi said. The activist warned that these same dark forces are at it again, with one of the #ENDSARS protest leaders openly calling for anarchy yet again. Ekujumi said, “Just as though to validate the credible intelligence in our possession that the plot to bring Lagos on her knees is still very much active, one of the #ENDSARS protest leaders, a certain Sarah Ibrahim, at 10:50 pm on Tuesday 30, November 2021 tweeted as follows: “Sanwolu (sic) has denied the #LekkiMassacre in his White Paper Report Youths, ARE WE READY?? Are we heading back to the streets?? Are we going to get justice? Should we shut everywhere down”? The Coalition noted that the action “is nothing but an act of economic sabotage by the same unseen forces to return to the streets of Lagos and finish the destruction of what they left behind in October 2020 like the Egyptian plagues.” The Group, however, affirmed that it would “defend Lagos using the People Power. It will be peaceful. It will be purposeful. It will be legal. But it will be stronger than the power of the vocal minority trying to super-impose their false narrative on the majority.” The Coalition also condemned the ‘False Massacre Narrative’ being peddled by some #ENDSARS protesters, noting that it is not enough to make allegations without evidence, saying that the campaigners have an ulterior motive. “When we ask them, have you read the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, they will call the god of thunder and resort to threats. Law is not about emotions. It is about evidential facts that will constitute a body, a weight of evidence. Murder is a serious offence. When you say somebody was killed, you must say where, when, how, by who, with what and for what. All of your claims must be able to stand the test of forensics. “It is in the light of the foregoing that we hold firmly to the position that, those bandying the massacre narrative have a bigger agenda than Lagosians and indeed Nigerians know at the moment. With time, the truth shall unfold.” The Defend Lagos Coalition commended the Lagos State Government for releasing the White Paper on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry report in 14 days as promised, noting that it is a win-win for both the government and the genuine #ENDSARS campaigners. It urged the government to begin the full implementation of all the recommendations that are within its remit without delay and appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to rally the Presidency, the National Economic Council (NEC), APC legislators, the Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police, amongst others to push for necessary reforms in the Police. The Defend Lagos Coalition further commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for the exemplary spirit of statesmanship displayed in reaching out to some of the #ENDSARS Protest Movement leaders during his broadcast on Tuesday, November 30 2021. It said: “As a coalition, we disagree with those who have criticised the Governor for reaching out to the protesters, considering how some of them have tried to ridicule him by declining the invitation and with one, in particular, overreaching himself and calling the Governor a murderer. We appeal to the Governor and his team to remember the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “There is No Future Without Forgiveness”. We urge the Governor to see this as the price of leadership and a sacrifice to win the peace. “ The Coalition disclosed that in pursuit of Sanwo-Olu’s peace objective, it would join the Governor and other people of goodwill on the planned Peace Walk. “For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu, please rest assured that you will not walk alone. We will walk with your shoulder to shoulder. We have commenced the sensitisation and mobilisation of our members from the nooks and crannies of Lagos. We await the full details of the planned Lagos Peace Walk from the Governor and his team; we will be there in our good number.”

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