By Tajudeen Adebanjo
DAAR Communications Plc Founder High Chief Raymond Dokpesi on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to release all detained #EndSARS protesters. He also called for the unfreezing of their accounts by banks, an action taken on the order of the court.
He alleged that the protests were peaceful until the government-sponsored hoodlums attacked protesters.
He said: “The #EndSARS protest started in a quiet and proper manner. Overzealous elements of the government went to recruit hoodlums to overtake the legitimate protest organised by those that are graduates and well-educated.
“When the protest started, nobody saw any gun; nobody saw anything until an effort was made to quell it. In Abuja, where I was, we saw trucks of people they brought in, uneducated, to overpower the educated. Those people carried cutlasses and sticks and that was the beginning of it. If they had not brought in the hoodlums, it’s possible we would have had a peaceful protest.”
Dokpesi spoke during his sympathy visit to The Nation headquarters in Lagos over last month attack on this newspaper’s facility.
According to him, #EndSARS has not ended.
He described #EndSARS as the beginning of a long struggle to appraise and restructure the country.
“A lot of impunity has happened in a very recent time. Nigeria has never been as divided as it is today. People have lost faith and confidence in the ability of Nigeria to remain as one united country.
“So, the time is fast approaching but we pray that God will raise a crop of Nigerians, who still believe strongly in the unity, progress and development of this country. Those who can sacrifice because the people who are supposed to be our servants – public servants, civil servants – have become our public masters.
“Until we re-orientate the people that public service is service to our people, that we are in the office to contribute to the well-being and good of our country, then, the #EndSARS has just started. It has emboldened quite a lot of people. There is nothing to be hidden anymore…,” he said.
To avert another #EndSARS protest, the Daar Communications’ boss said it may be inevitable.
Dokpesi said the situation in the country is highly explosive and most unjust.
He said: “It shows that the government doesn’t have respect for anybody – either for our children or for us. They have used our father’s time; they used our own time; they want to use our children’s time. It must stop! It is not in the interest of anybody to continue to hunt these children while keeping their own children safe.
“My own children and your own children, and the children of everybody that went out to protest were not armed.
“It was those that are in government that invited hoodlums to chase them out of the streets. We saw them with sticks in all parts of Abuja and in the northern part of the country. If the government loves itself, it should be advised to stop and release everybody (the protesters). All those youths that they have their accounts closed, they should open them immediately and allow them to go.”
Dokpesi said as a parent, he was ready come out to challenge the government to release the protesters
“They are going after protesters because their own children aren’t involved, so those of us that have our own children involved, can we ask that they be killed? Next time, it wouldn’t be the children protesting, we, the parents, will come out and say let our children be free and that’s what we are going to do and the conditions that prevail today now, should it goes to the first quarter of next year, it will be very disastrous and it will be bad for all of us. Let us put on our thinking cap and reverse the situation,” he added.
He described the attack as unfortunate and most painful.
“Having gone through this path myself several times in the past, I know how demoralising and devastating it is…It is not such a pain that can just be pushed away or go off in a short time but our gratitude to God is that the fact that the areas that were touched are now gradually being refurbished. May God not let us experience this; may this organisation be able to prosper and provide that leadership it has begun to provide,” he said.
He said The Nation was part of his menu of newspapers daily.
He praised the editors and the employees of the Vintage Press Limited for being exemplary and hardworking.
Dokpesi said the media should be the last place to be attacked by any group of persons.
“No matter how convincing their grievances were, The Nation didn’t deserve the type of attack that it was subjected to and like I have said, may God not let this happen again in the future,” he said.
He called for a stronger relationship among the media houses.
“I strongly believe that there must be unity and close relationship among all media houses whether print or electronics and whatever happens to one, happens to all. Therefore, we must take a firm position to ensure that the organisations are well protected as provided for in the constitution. The government itself ought to provide maximum security for media houses,” he said.
Dokpesi said the country, not the police alone, needs reformation.
He called for the reformation of public institutions and the polity.
He stressed: “All sectors in Nigeria require reformation not only the police force alone. The police force as we have seen, how much does a police constable earn? The people you find on the highways sometimes the same people you find in the morning, you will find by 12am, standing on duty, how much do they take home? Can their salaries take care of their financial responsibilities? The governors have had to take responsibility for the operational needs of the police officers within their own states, providing transport logistics and other needs. The Nigeria Police Force has abandoned its responsibilities.”