Some key stakeholders within the integrated marketing communications, (imc) industry, media and public relations, have come down hard on the military, state and federal government over the handling of the #ENDSARS protests that greeted the nation, and which resulted to soldiers allegedly shooting at the protesters on Monday night.

In a statement made available to Sunday Independent, the Heads of Advertising Sectoral Group, (HASG) that comprises of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), Media Independent Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, (BON)  and the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), said “Yesterday,  across  different  parts  of  the  country,  we  observed  with  shock,  reported  cases  of  military  force  against  protesters in Lagos and other parts of the country”

The statement, which is signed by all the presidents of the member association of HASG further stated that the group have watched with concern,  multiple  violent  attacks  across  the  country,  as  young  Nigerians  trooped  out  peacefully  to  protest  police  brutality.

“We condemn, in every way possible, police brutality, citizen harassment, and the use of force by the army on innocent, unarmed citizens who are exercising their constitutional-ly-guaranteed rights to peaceful gathering and protest.

“.Our prayers, and sympathy goes out to every Nigerian affected directly, or indirectly, and we commiserate with families who have lost loved ones to this avoidable violence.,” Steve Babaeko, President of AAAN said.

According to the Chairman of the body, Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu, “We are worried that the attacks could lead to heavy loss of jobs and financial investments at a time of severe economic headwinds in the country.”

Advertising, media, PR condemn attacks on #ENDSARS protesters, a body of senior journalists of Southeast of Nigeria origin, condemned in the strongest terms the attacks on media houses  (The Nation newspaper, Television Continental (TVC), Lagos State Television and Channels Television) in Lagos.

“We stand in firm solidarity with our colleagues in the media houses that have suffered these attacks, while calling for immediate stop of such evil acts,” Anueyiagu stated.

IZUNWANNE expressed the suspicion that such evil attacks could be an attempt to muzzle the media, attack the freedom of the press and diminish the right of individuals and groups to freedom of association and the right to establish organs for free expression.

For Public Relations Consultant Association of Nigeria, (PRCAN) in a statement titled, ‘Lekki Toll Gate Attack By Soldiers, PRCAN Demands Probe,’, the body said, “PRCAN aligns itself with the global outrage against the mindless attack on peaceful protesters demanding sweeping police reforms at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on Tuesday 20th October 2020. We condemn this barbaric action by officers and men of the Nigerian Army and hereby demand an urgent probe into the operation.”

In a statement co-signed by Mr. Israel Jaiye Opayemi, president and Mr. Bolaji Abimbola, publicity secretary, PRCAN said, “As a body of professionals, while we remain circumspect on the actual fatality figures, we hasten to say, the denial by the Nigerian Army seems to be in character when we remember similar atrocities in ZakiBiam and Odi respectively.”

 Till date,”We are not aware that any soldier has been brought to justice for those atrocities. It is an insult on the collective intelligence of Nigerians for the Army Headquarters to claim no soldiers were at the scene of the Lekki Toll Gate incident. Are they unknown soldiers yet again,” PRCAN queried.

The body wishes to tell the army, ‘you have messed with the wrong sub-national jurisdiction and the wrong people’. This is Lagos, the epi-centre of the struggle to end military dictatorship in Nigeria”.

According to HASG, “Not only is this a breach of the fundamental rights of Nigerians, this incident has brought yet another layer of stain, on our country’s reputation, threatening to destroy years of hard work by government, corporate organisations, sports men, and the creative/media/marketing industry in showing the world the great, beautiful Nation that is Nigeria.”

“It is not too late to arrest this situation and turn it positively to get the country back on track. We as a group will be happy to work voluntarily with all parties in developing the right people-centred strategy for the short and long term interest of our dear Nation,” Babaeko said.