This was the position of prominent Nigerians, including the former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
The Tuesday attack on the protesters had led to the death of many of them in Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos and many other parts of Lagos.
Many prominent leaders across the globe had reacted to the attack condeming the action of the military.
Among them were the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres; a former United States President, Mr. Bill Clinton; former US Vice President, Mr. Joe Biden; United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Mr. Dominic Raab.
Others were President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the European Union, among others .
Obassanjo in his statement appealed to the protesters to allow peace to reign while condemning the action of the soldiers.
He also urged President Muhammadu Buhari against use of force to check the protesters,
Part of Obasanjo’s statement reads: “The shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation, has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration, “Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and the frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.”
“It is clear that Mr. President and his lieutenants did exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resorting to use of force.
“It is worse that there is a denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control.”
Soyinka also said in a statement, “To the affected governors all over the nation, there is one immediate step to take: demand the withdrawal of those soldiers. Convoke town hall meetings as a matter of urgency. 24-hour curfews are not the solution. Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage. Substitute community self-policing based on local councils, to curb hooligan infiltration and extortionist and destructive opportunism. We commiserate with the bereaved and urge state governments to compensate material losses, wherever.”
“My enquiry so far indicates that the Lagos governor did not invite the army, did not complain of a ‘breakdown in law and order. Nevertheless, the centre has chosen to act in an authoritarian manner and has inflicted a near incurable wound on the community psyche. Need I add that, on arrival in Abeokuta, my hometown, I again had to negotiate a roadblock? That went smoothly enough. I expected it, and have no doubt that more are being erected as this is being written”
Atiku also stated, “I call on our armed forces to show restraint. No more lives must be lost – absolutely none. We must face our common enemies, not our brothers and sisters. And our foes are the terrorists and insurgents, who seek to end the Nigerian way of life.”
Biden also said, “I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths. My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence.
“The United States must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy. I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency Wednesday called for calm over the protest.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement said,
“The presidency appeals for understanding and calm across the nation, as the implementation of the reforms gather pace at federal and states,”