By Idowu Gabriel
Ekiti State Government has described social media reports that soldiers have taken over Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, chasing protesters with guns as untrue and misleading.
Akin Omole, the Commissioner for Information and Value Orientation, said in a statement on Tuesday that soldiers did not engage the protesters even as the latter barricaded most roads in the state capital throughout Monday.
The commissioner said that the soldiers were in Ekiti to protect the people, including the protesters as well as to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful protest to commit a crime and harass innocent citizens.
Omole admonished the protesters to remain law-abiding and refrain from harassing innocent citizens to avoid a total hijack of the protest by criminals and hoodlums.
He noted that Gov. Kayode Fayemi had set up a panel of enquiry and restitution to address the issue of police brutality in the state in line with a decision taken at the Governors Forum and also in consonance with the recommendations of the National Economic Council.
The commissioner assured that the panel, chaired by retired Justice Cornelius Akintayo, and which has representatives of civil society organisations and youth groups, would look into cases of police brutality and recommend compensations for victims.
He said that the committee would ensure that offending SARS officers were identified and prosecuted.
Omole added that the government was aware that the on-going protest was beyond the scrapping of SARS or the call for police reformation and largely had to do with the demand for better governance.
He emphasised that the state government had already started consultations with stakeholders to address the fundamental issues that led to the protest.
“While the present administration in Ekiti State recognises and respects the right to peaceful assembly and in fact, identifies with the people on the demand for good governance, all stakeholders must be mindful of the safety of lives and property.
“Innocent and law-abiding citizens should be allowed to go about their lawful businesses without hindrance, while there must be due cognizance of the fact that willful destruction of property will be detrimental to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people,’’ Omole said.
He assured that the state government would continue to work toward making life more meaningful for the people in spite of the global economic downturn and the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.