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By Lekan Lisoye

Rising from a meeting with security chiefs in the state which assessed the security situation, the Ogun State Government, Tuesday, ordered the closure of schools and the suspension of motorcycle operations on Wednesday, October 21 across the State.

The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun made the announcement in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, in what  he called a "State of the State address".

Gov Abiodun said as a result of the #ENDSARS protest rocking the country, there he has ordered the beefing up of security around Correctional Centres and public buildings.

Prince Abiodun cautioned that blockade of highways and molestation of law abiding citizens going about their legitimate businesses, would no longer be tolerated, as joint security patrols have been deployed to maintain peace and order in the State.

 "Earlier today, I held a meeting with be the Service Chiefs in the State. After assessment of the prevailing situation, particularly emerging threats to public safety and security, as a responsible administration, we considered a number of options, including imposing a curfew on the state. However, in line with our focused, deliberate and measured approach, we are adopting the following measures in the meantime: all schools are closed till Monday, 26th October, 2020.

"Operation of commercial motorcycle, popularly called okada, is suspended across the state for tomorrow, Wednesday, 21st October, in the first instance, increased security around the correctional centres and public buildings, blockade of highways and molestation of innocent citizens going about their lawful business by protesters will no longer be tolerated  and deployment of joint patrol teams of security agencies to ensure no threat to public security.

While requesting the youth groups to appoint leaders amongst themselves for a meeting with him for further dialogue, Governor Abiodun  added that developments would be reviewed on a 24-hourly basis, warning that he would not hesitate to announce more stringent measures if the need arose.

He regretted that despite all the engagements and practical demonstration of government commitment to meeting the demands of the protesters to end the agitation and taking into consideration that most of the issues have been addressed, the protest has escalated into violence and near anarchy.

The Governor noted that burning of police stations,
vandalizing  public properties, disruption of vehicular movements on major highways, deployment of okada to transport hoodlums, extortion of members of the public at illegal barricades erected at public spaces and destruction of public facilities, could no longer be condoned.
Abiodun expressed sadness on the killing of a custom officer earlier on Tuesday by a mob on motorcycles in one  of the State's border towns, saying the incidents in the state are not isolated cases, as there are worse and other gory reports of disturbing proportion in other states which included jail breaks and loss of lives and properties.

"I must emphasise that we cannot fold our arms and let the state descend into anarchy. No right is absolute. In exercising our rights, we must respect the rights of others. There cannot be a better tomorrow, if we destroy today and the foundation being laid for tomorrow.  Let me warn that Ogun State will not be conducive to anyone who may want to test the resolve of government to provide security or those who may want to come from other states to foment trouble in our dear State. The security agencies have been directed to ensure full compliance with the measures announced to ensure security of lives and properties", he warned.

"It is rather unfortunate that our state, which has the record of being the location for the COVID-19 index case in the country, is being forced again to adopt measures that will constrain socio-economic activities in the state. But that is the reality we are confronted with. Therefore, I appeal to all parents, guardians, traditional and religious leaders and indeed all stakeholders to rein their children and wards to avoid any act that may breach public peace or bring them into confrontation with the law enforcement agencies", he pleaded.

Prince Abiodun acknowledged that though the initiators of the original #EndSARS protest may have good motive and patriotic fervour, it was time for them to realise that the protest has been hijacked and infiltrated and therefore expected to end the protest and comply with the various security measures, hence they may be held vicariously liable. 

He urged the people to take full advantage of the windows available including the State Human Rights  Complaints' Report portal to express their grievances in peaceful manners as well as allow time for full implementation of the various government initiatives in response to their demands.

"The progressive society is the one that ensures that the inevitable conflicts of human interaction are never allowed to degenerate into violence that results in destruction of lives and property. This is why I will continue to plead with our teeming youth, and in fact, all Nigerians, that we should not allow the entire process to degenerate", Abiodun submitted.

The continuous engagement of the youth, Governor Abiodun added, was a demonstration of his administration’s appreciation of the right of the people to participate and express themselves in matters that affect them, saying that it was an integral part of the policies of inclusiveness, fairness, justice, equity and respect for the rule of law in governance since  he assumed office on 29th May, 2019.

He called on the people to be at alert to stop unscrupulous elements who do not have the love and share the same development ideals with patriotic Nigerians from taking advantage of the situation to hijack the process for their selfish end.

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