The military hierarchy advised President Muhammadu Buhari to allow armed soldiers “deal with” EndSARS demonstrators but the president reportedly refused.
The request, according to Peoples Gazzette, came from the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
Buratai reportedly made the request to disperse Lagos and Abuja protesters on Wednesday night.
But President Buhari said such move could worsen the situation. Chief of staff Ibrahim Gambari also reportedly agreed with the president.
“The president is wary of escalating the situation,” a source is quoted to have said.
“He does not want this to backfire because there are many locations that protests are holding across the country.”
When Buratai issued a statement warning that the military was ready to quell any violent protest, critics were quick to point out that the demonstrations for police reform have been peaceful.
Critics also reminded the COAS of his military’s bloody history with Shiite protesters.
Demonstrators are marching across Nigeria against widespread police brutality mainly targeted at young people. The protests forced the authorities to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit blamed for illegal arrests, extortion and extra-judicial killings.
SARS will be replaced by a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit, the inspector-general of police Muhammed Adamu said. But protesters, who are now calling for comprehensive police reform, say that is not enough.