Buhari hosts Blinken, says he can't act on #EndSARS panels' reports

President Muhammadu Buhari  and Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State at Aso rock presidential villa on Thursday

President Muhammadu Buhari and Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State at Aso rock presidential villa on Thursday

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the federal government will not act on the reports of panels set up to probe police brutality in the country following the EndSARS protests of October 2020, until the states which initiated the inquiries complete the process.

Buhari spoke on Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving in audience Mr Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State.

The United States, United Nations, United Kingdom has asked the Nigerian government to implement the reports, especially following the submission of the report of the panel set up in Lagos which indicted security operatives of killing of protesters at a tollgate in Lekki area of the state during the EndSARS protest of 2020 some days ago.

But Buhari told Blinken that since many states sets up probe panels with different terms of reference given to them, the federal government will wait until the completion of the assignments, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President o Media and Publicity quoted him as saying in a statement.

“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.”

The President also commended the United States on the recent removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom which Blinken said was “based on facts.

But Buhari expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.

He said education is 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 of America for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to Nigerian military.

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“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.”

On development of democratic ethos, President Buhari said Nigeria has 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.”

Nigeria and her neighbors, the President noted, have been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which has 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.

“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 have 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.