“Peaceful protests are an important part of our democratic process,” Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde said Tuesday as he urged protesters to stay on the streets for as long as they want.
Nigerians are marching for comprehensive police reform. But hoodlums have hijacked the protests in several parts of the country as cover for chaos. There are allegations that the thugs are being funded by the government to create pretexts for deploying brute force against protesters.
Makinde, unlike the governors in Edo, Lagos, and the administrators in FCT Abuja, stopped short of declaring a curfew to arrest the trend in Oyo.
He, instead, closed all schools temporarily and urged business owners to go about their work. Oyo residents and businesses are urged to call 615 should anyone attempt to disrupt their legitimate activities.
Makinde also told protesters to continue to demonstrate peacefully while urging the police to be professional in dealing with demonstrators.
The governor said he was deploying a security unit to deal with thugs who may want to hijack any continued protest.
“We are deploying members of Operation Burst to various hotspots in Ibadan to arrest the situation and restore normalcy,” Makinde said.
“The members of the team will continue to protect genuine protesters and their right to protest.
“But we cannot allow persons with ulterior motives to hijack the protests,” he said.