Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Catholic Bishops under the umbrella of Catholic Bishops’Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have justified the ongoing nationwide protests by youths against the activities of officers of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and other abuses by the Nigeria Police Force.
CBCN President Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, in a statement on Saturday, said that the week-long protests are morally justified, adding that the youths were standing in the gap for the entire country in demanding justice and good governance.
He noted that disbanding the controversial SARS unit and setting up a new outfit called Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) is an indication that the Federal Government was either unwilling to allow peace and justice prevail, or totally lacking understanding of the enormous problems at hand.
Part of the Bishops’ statement reads:
‘We have followed the protests with keen interest, and we call on the Federal Government to listen to the cry for justice so that peace can reign. The protest seems to have a life of its own and it is spreading all over the country. It shows that most Nigerians are facing the same oppression and brutality inflicted by the SARS.
‘We urge the Federal Government to fulfil its primary constitutional responsibility of securing life and property of every Nigerian and provide opportunities for our children to realise their God-given potentials.
‘The audacity and impunity with which the SARS officials have been operating all the while is a manifestation of the failing State of Nigeria. Various bodies and patriotic Nigerians have expressed the opinion that just ending the SARS will not solve the enormous problems of Nigeria, because it is futile treating symptoms of a disease when the root cause is known.
‘Howbeit, a centralized Police Force in Nigeria is primarily responsible for the lack of grassroots accountability for the crimes perpetrated by the SARS and their likes.
‘We, thus reiterate that restructuring this country is a desirable path to be towed given the various developments in this nation. The knee jerk reaction of the administration by abolishing the SARS and setting up SWAT portrays either the absence of an understanding of the entire problem or a lack of sincerity to address the problem.
‘Government must realise that what the youths, on behalf of Nigerians, clamour for under the code name #EndSARS is a total reform of the entire Police Force and not a change of name. It’s a call for a reform of all government institutions and a reform of the entire nation.’