Former president Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the “use of deadly force” on #EndSARS protesters in Lagos state.
In a statement on Thursday, Jonathan said such actions will only worsen the situation, calling on all parties to embrace dialogue.
Nationwide protests against the now-dissolved police special anti-robbery squad (SARS) metamorphosed into agitation for improved governance in addition to justice for victims of police brutality.
On Tuesday, soldiers shot at the young protesters while they converged on the Lekki tollgate.
Twelve people died in the shooting and in a related development in Ikeja, according to Amnesty International.
The former president said the event of recent days “has been a difficult time to me as well”.
He said the task of building a nation must involve both the old and the young, adding that Nigeria “cannot afford to lose the lives of our youth who we look up to take over leadership and continue our nation’s journey to greatness”.
“As leaders, we must understand that a nation can never win a battle against its own people,” he said.
“Thus, the use of deadly force against citizens only aggravates tense situations rather than assuage it. We must therefore move away from battlegrounds to middle grounds in our individual and national life. This, I believe, epitomises the essence of democracy.
“I condemn any unnecessary loss of life and urge efforts to be stepped up to ensure that there is no such re occurrence.
“We all must accept that we are all brothers and sisters of one Nigeria, and always act towards each other accordingly.”
Jonathan, who added that “nobody’s interest is worth the blood of any Nigerian citizen,” asked security agencies to ensure maximum restraint is applied in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property.
He also asked young Nigerians to “give peace a chance especially now that different stakeholders have demonstrated the willingness to investigate the various allegations of excessive use of force on citizens and address the culture of impunity by security personnel”.