Shehu Sani Urges  Tinubu To Pardon Detained EndSARS Protesters

By Jelili Gbadamosi

In a compelling appeal, former senator Shehu Sani has urged President Bola Tinubu to pardon the EndSARS protesters who remain in detention. 

Speaking at a dinner marking the 2024 Democracy Day, Sani emphasised the importance of reconciliation and justice in healing the nation.

In October 2020, Nigerian youths took to the streets to protest against the abuses committed by the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police. 

The protests, which spread across cities like Lagos, Rivers, and Ibadan, led to the arrest of numerous protesters, many of whom are still behind bars.

Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the Senate, drew parallels between the youthful protesters and President Tinubu himself, highlighting Tinubu’s own history as a prominent activist in the struggle for Nigeria’s democracy. 

“Mr. President, there are some people who are still in detention as a result of the EndSARS protest. They were young people who were protesting for justice, freedom, and democracy,” Sani said.

He continued, “Any young protester in Nigeria today should learn from you because you were the father of protest in Nigeria. 

“Do something about it. Give them the freedom; give them the pardon.” Sani further urged Tinubu to recognize these protesters as the ideological descendants of those who fought for Nigeria’s return to civilian rule, a struggle in which Tinubu himself played a significant role.

 “You taught us; you funded us to stand up and fight. So, they are your children and grandchildren; give them pardon,” he added.

In his speech, Sani also emphasised the broader need for fostering freedom, equity, and justice as the cornerstones of national unity. 

He remarked, “Mr. President, I would like to draw your attention. A national anthem cannot unite a nation. A national pledge or a constitution cannot unite a nation. A nation is united by the ideals of freedom; a nation is united by equity and justice.”

Reflecting on the sacrifices made to achieve democracy, Sani reminded the audience that democracy in Nigeria was not a gift from the military but the result of a prolonged and arduous struggle. 

“Many younger generations of today have not and couldn’t know the sacrifice we have made to restore democracy to this country,” he said. 

He recounted the hardships faced by many, including exile and imprisonment, emphasising that democracy is “a product of struggle and sacrifice.”

Sani paid tribute to various groups and individuals who played critical roles in this struggle, from the Academic Staff Union of Universities to the media, and labor unions like NUPENG, led by figures such as Frank Kokori.

 “This democracy was a product of that struggle, a product of determination, and a product of sacrifices,” he noted.

Concluding his remarks, Sani underscored the weight of responsibility on President Tinubu’s shoulders.

 “Mr. President, you have a duty to succeed. If you succeed, we will share your glory because you came from the trenches, that period of struggle. Mr. President, if you fail, they would say those of you who fought for democracy have nothing new to offer to Nigeria.”

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