Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji. Lai Mohammed, has been criticised over a statement claiming that the October, 2020 EndSARS protest, was allegedly sponsored by the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.
Some online reports, yet to be denied by the minister, alleged that he said most of the young men and women that were at the forefront of the #ENDSARS Movement, are currently campaigning for the LP flag-bearer on Twitter, and other influential social media platforms.
Responding to the controversy, a group of professionals, operating under the canopy of Coalition of Nigeria Professionals for Good Governance (CNPGG), insisted that the EndSARS protest was a consequence of bad governance, occasioned by insecurity, youth unemployment, poverty and police brutality.
According to them, the fact that the Minister had yet to deny the vexatious report credited to him more than 24 hours after, suggests that he, indeed, authored it.
In the said report, Mohammed was quoted to have said: “Recent development has now unveiled the brain behind ENDSARS Protest in Nigeria which led to the destruction of Government properties and security agencies loosing their lives.
“Over the years, investigation has been going on in order to unveil those behind this wicked act just to tarnish the good image of President Muhammadu Buhari and his good works.
“Mostly all the people and the misguided youths who championed the ENDSARS Protest are all campaigning for Peter Obi for President. All of them, no exception. That will go along way in telling you that Peter Obi knows much about ENDSARS Protest and those behind that ugly act must be brought to book to face disciplinary actions.
“Go online today, every youth that participated in the protest are all campaigning for Peter Obi. I can categorically tell Nigerians that Peter Obi masterminded the protest in order to gain ground and favour for his Presidential ambition but unfortunately for him, it didn’t work as our government can never give in to cheap blackmail.
“We have achieved a lot and no individual can destroy what we have achieved with propaganda and blackmail. Come 2023, Nigerians are ready to disgrace him at the poll for masterminding the ugly protest that nearly destroyed Nigeria.
“No Party can do what we have done in Nigeria for the past Seven and half years now. We have achieved a lot that is why we have to continue in order to bring more dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”
Responding in a statement jointly signed by Dr Ado Manir (National President), and Dr Mrs Modupe Olalekan Mohammed (National Secretary), the Coalition said the unusual campaign was a spontaneous expression of frustration, disillusionment, and anger by concerned youths, who feared that the ship of state was navigating dangerously towards a precipice.
The youths, in their wisdom, therefore, initiated the movement, which was anchored on the urgent need to disband the then dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an elite unit of the Nigeria Police, which carried out serial abuses.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement credited to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, which is currently trending on some social and traditional media platforms, alleging that the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, was the brain behind the EndSARS campaign that rocked the nation in October, 2020.
“We are surprised that the minister has not denied the report that is vexatious in nature, and patently false in content, several days after.
“This development is suggestive of the fact that he may have actually authored the unpatriotic and irresponsible statement, which flies in the face of reason and valued judgement.
“Nigerians know that the LP presidential candidate, is a fine gentleman, whose uncommon patriotism is exemplified in his commitment to the Nigerian Project; a characteristic that is unparalleled.
“While we are not holding brief for Peter Obi and his campaign organisation, as concerned Nigerians with vested interest in the Nigerian project, we will not be silent in the face of deliberate attempt at blackmailing a quintessential politician that the LP standard-bearer is”.