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#EndSARS: Naira Marley cancels protest

The popular singer, Naira Marley, has called off a planned protest against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

He announced the decision after police authorities said they heard Nigerians’ complaints “loudly and clearly” and had started reforms.

The police spokesperson, Frank Mba, will hold a live chat with the singer to discuss the issues.

“We won’t be protesting anymore because there’s a lot of changes being made right now. As a Marlian we will give them a week to see the changes and if there’s no changes we will start a mass protest. #togetherwecan,” the singer tweeted Tuesday.

“Marlian nation feel free to join the live and ask any question you want. #togetherwecan,” he wrote.

Mixed reactions on the Nigerian social media space on Tuesday greeted the announcement that the police would hold a live chat with Naira Marley on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and how they affect the youth.

The police announced the plan to dissuade the popular Nigerian singer from leading a protest against the atrocities of SARS personnel recorded across Nigeria.

Naira Marley, whose real name is Azeez Fashola, announced the plan for the protest on his Twitter account on Monday.

“So 9am tomorrow we move 2nd toll gate Peaceful protest. No vandalism, no fights and no stealing,” he tweeted.

Following the announcement, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, had urged the singer not to go ahead with the protest.

“I urge you and other youth not to embark upon any protest. Your grievances are being addressed at the highest level of government. As the Minister in charge of youth I know this is an issue that must be tackled. Government is doing just that,” Mr Dare tweeted in response.

Several activists, human rights groups and celebrities have also spoken out against the operations of SARS which have so often resulted in unlawful arrest and killing of Nigerians, extortion and other misconduct by officials of the police unit.

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But reacting to Naira Marley’s tweet on Tuesday, the police said their spokesperson would hold a live chat with the singer at 11 a.m on Tuesday to discuss concerns of the youths on the activities of SARS.

“@officialnairam1 The Inspector General of Police wishes to inform Nigerian youths that their voices and complaints on the issues of unprofessional conducts by some SARS operatives have been heard very loudly and clearly.

“The Force is irrevocably committed to changing these narratives and undertaking far-reaching reforms to reposition SARS and other Tactical Squads for better service delivery.

“The Orders and restrictions on the operations of SARS and others already issued by the IGP are just the initial steps out of the many reforms planned for the Tactical Squads.

“The Leadership of the NPF will work with the Ministry of Youth and other stakeholders, including Youth leaders, youth entrepreneurs, CSOs and others in formulating and implementing consensual reforms.

“Today, Tuesday 6th October, 2020, by 11am, the Force PRO- DCP Frank Mba will be having a live instagram chat with Naira Marley to answer questions and discuss the concerns of young Nigerians on the issues of SARS operations and other burning issues. Please stay tuned,” the police tweeted.

Criticisms

Meanwhile, the planned chat has received both condemnations and commendations by youth on social media.

A twitter user @Leks4Humanity wrote:
“Out of all the numerous youths of influence in Nigeria, is @officialnairam1 your intelligence gathering could choose to have livestream on IG with on Youth Matters? Am not pleased with this! It really shows where you pitch your tent. #leksam”

“Among the numerous intelligent, vibrant youths out there, Why choose NairaM ?
I wait to see what intelligent conversation that will come out of this,” @EFEMARTINS4 tweeted.

@ChelsTracy also wrote; “This is extremely disgraceful. Naira Marley still has two cases in court. How exactly is he a role model?”

There were, however, some commendations for the police over the development too.
A Twitter user, @Edoboroses wrote:

“This is the first time the leadership of the NPF will listen to the yearnings of the Nigerian youths whom they are to protect from abuse. Act with all sense of responsibility. I can tell u, the Nigerian youths will gradually begin to build confidence in ur powers to protect them.”

“Naira Marley is the one who called for the protest, that is why he is chosen by @policeNG so stop saying why Naira Marley,” another user, @BObinrin wrote.

Meanwhile, Naira Marley has called off the protest, urging youths to join the live chat.

“We won’t be protesting anymore because there’s a lot of changes being made right now. As a Marlian we will give them a week to see the changes and if there’s no changes we will start a mass protest. #togetherwecan

“Marlian nation feel free to join the live and ask any question you want. #togetherwecan,” he wrote.



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