President Muhammadu Buhari says at least 69 people have been killed in the #EndSARS protests raging across the country.
According to the BBC, the president announced the death toll during a virtual meeting with former leaders and security chiefs on Friday.
Buhari was quoted as saying 51 civilians, 11 police officers, and seven soldiers had been killed in the unrest.
A statement released by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, at the end of the meeting also quoted Buhari as saying it is unfortunate that the “initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths was hijacked and misdirected”.
According to the statement, the president said despite accepting the demands of the protesters, they refused to stop the demonstrations.
”Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent,” the president was quoted to have said.
Buhari maintained that the federal government will not fold its arms and allow “miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country”.
”We shall also continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. Here, I want to also reaffirm our commitment to preserving the unity of this country,” the statement read.
“The President thanked the former Heads of State for attending the meeting and their invaluable comments, observations and advice, adding that ‘Nigerians expect nothing less from responsible statesmen’.
“Each of the former leaders commended President Buhari for steps taken so far to restore calm and order to the country and also applauded the presidential broadcast of Thursday as detailed and soothing to the country.
“The former heads of state were unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy, including through direct foreign investments, were critical to checking youth restiveness.
“The former heads of state also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.
“Equally, the former leaders commended the actions taken by governors to address the demands of the ENDSARS protesters and their efforts to check the excesses of those who perpetrated violent acts and conduct.
“Finally, they called on youths to pursue peaceful means in seeking redress through engagement with government, and encouraged further conversation with the youths and other stakeholders in the country.”