President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, met with the United States Secretary of State, Mr Antony Blinken, at the State House Abuja.
During the meeting with the American top official, Buhari said the Federal Government awaited pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country.
The Presidnt’s remarks came three days after the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) set up by the Lagos state government to probe the October 20, 2020 #EndSARs protest submitted its report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The report disclosed that at least 11 persons were killed during the peaceful demonstration at the Lekki Tollgate and another four missing but presumed dead, making a total of 15 dead persons.
The report, which also described the Lekki Tollgate shootings of October 20, 2020, as “a massacre,” was a damning indictment of heightened extrajudicial killings and unprofessionalism by Nigerian law enforcement agents.
The report had described as “atrocious”, the maiming and killing of unarmed, helpless and unresisting protesters, while sitting on the floor, waving their Nigerian flags and singing the National Anthem, stressing that the act could be equated to a “massacre in context.”
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, said Buhari told Blinken that the Federal Government would allow the system to exhaust itself, noting that “so many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels.”
President Buhari said: “We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work.
“We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”
On the recent removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, which Blinken said was “based on facts,” President Buhari expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one was discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.
He said education was a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.”
The President equally appreciated the United States for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to the Nigerian military.
“It’s helping us to stabilize the situation in the Northeast, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015,” he said.
“We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts,” he added.
On development of democratic ethos, President Buhari said Nigeria had adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits.”
“Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced. You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard, and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best,” he stated.
Nigeria and her neighbours, the President noted, had been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which had seen the Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.
Read him: “That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe. Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry.”
Mr Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian President earlier in the year said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”
He appreciated the contributions of President Buhari to protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Blinken said America and Nigeria had diverse challenges, but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, “so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”
He described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made. (THISDAY)