Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Fred Itua, and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) okayed the five-point demands of EndSARS protesters.
They include” Immediate release of all arrested protesters; Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days); In line with the new police act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS before redeployment and increase in salary of police.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the adoption followed the directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and immediate response to yearnings of citizens.
He said the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at a meeting with stakeholders, agreed to meet demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.
The meeting, organised by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the EndSARS movement and development partners.
Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demand was a genuine concern and would be addressed by government.
According to the communiqué signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, the Forum said the dissolution of SARS presented an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.
CAN seeks sanctions for bag eggs, reforms of security agencies
While it commended President Buhari and IGP Adamu for being sensitive and responsive to the clarion call for the disbandment of the special anti-robbery squad, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said all bad eggs in the outlawed unit be brought to book.
In a statement, yesterday, CAN president, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, said: “We are aware of the circumstances that led to the agitation which included but not limited to alleged extra- judicial killings, unlawful arrests and detentions, extortion, tortures, and disappearances of detainees.
“CAN acknowledges the spontaneous nature of the protests nationwide, but regrets the loss of lives and the destruction of some property in the cause of the mass actions. We ask God to console and comfort all the bereaved as He heals those who are recuperating in the hospitals.
“Equally, CAN appreciates the prompt and positive responses of the Federal Government in disbanding SARS. It is unprecedented in recent history of our country and it is praiseworthy. This is what democracy is all about.
“However, CAN is not happy with the automatic redevelopment of the officers and men of the disbanded unit to other units without sanctioning the bad eggs among them. We call for an administrative or Judicial Investigation into the disbanded SARS with a view to bringing the culprits to book so that such bad eggs might not be allowed to corrupt other units or continue with their old habit of lawlessness.
“Finally, we call on all our security agencies to be reformed and transformed into a modern security architecture that befits the contemporary challenges such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and herdsmen attacks. Uniformed men and women should cherish the rare opportunity the country gave them and the trust of handling the security of the nation by behaving responsibly. They should make us to be proud of them.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has called on the IGP to prosecute men and officers who may have played a role in extrajudicial killing of Nigerians and protesters. He said such a matter must not be swept under the carpet.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while making a remark on a motion moved by Buhari Andulfatai on an attack on a palace in Ogbomoso, urged the protesters to end their agitation and allow the Government to implement all the promised reforms.
Lawan said: “We insist that police officers involved in any form of extrajudicial killings must be brought to justice. We can’t sweep such issues under the carpet. We need pass a strong message that the right thing must be done.
“The IGP has also announced the disbandment of SARS. We need to give the Government time to implement what they have promised. I don’t think there’s still need for us to keep protesting. Let’s give peace a chance.”
Rochas Okorocha, in a seperate motion, called on all police formations in the country to release protesters arrested and detained immediately. His motion was accepted.
Reps to appropriate funds for compensation of victims
The House of Representatives said it would appropriate funds for the compensation of victims of the EndSARS protest, in the 2021 budget.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who stated this at plenary said the gesture is in line with the resolve of the House to ensure that those who were reportedly killed during the protests in various parts of the country, did not die in vain.
Gbajabiamila noted that to this end, , the House would obtain the list of all the victims and use the 2021 budget process to provide compensation for them through their respective families.
The speaker expressed delight that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad has been dissolved in line with the demands of Nigerians, who took to the streets nationwide to protest the excesses of the anti-robbery squad.
“The people that we represent have spoken, and the government has listened. The President has unequivocally dissolved SARS.
“The House had last week reached some resolutions on the issue. It shows that we’re on the same page with the Nigerian people.
“We should get the list of those that lost their lives so that during this budget process, we’ll be able to appropriate for their full compensation.”
Lagos sets up N200m compensation fund for victims
Lagos Government has announced the setting up of a N200 million fund to compensate families of victims of SARS.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced this while addressing the EndSARS protesters at the Lagos House of Assembly gate, Alausa, Ikeja.
The compensation fund will be completely supervised by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) appointed by members of the public.
Sanwo-Olu called on the protesrers to send the list of everyone that had fatal encounters with SARS in Lagos.
He said government would identify the families and ensure that they were compensated.
The governor said he fully identified with the EndSARS struggle, knowing that many youth had been battered, and he felt their pain.
He said in fulfilment of one of the requests made by the protesters, all those arrested had been released without any condition.
Sanwo-Olu further promised to convey the requests of the protesters to President Buhari, some of which are increment in police salary, as well as Justice for those killed by the Police.
On Monday, the governor addressed some of the protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate where he expressed solidarity with them.
Sanwo-Olu delivers protesters’ communique to Buhari, meets IGP
Meanwhile, Governor Sanwo-Olu has handed over a communiqué issued by the youths demanding end to police brutality and extra-judicial killings.
Sanwo-Olu has also met with Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu on the issue as well.
The governor had met with the protesters yesterday morning, at the blocked entrance of State House of Assembly Complex, during which the aggrieved youths gave him their five-point demands from the government.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Gboyega Akosile on his Twitter handle @gboyegaakosile, later confirmed that the governor has met with President and delivered the communiqué
Abiodun urges protesters to allow implementation of planned police reform
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has again appealed to the youth and #EndSARS demonstrators in the state to be peaceful, calm and civil in their conduct and not allow the lofty idea behind the protest to be hijacked by hoodlums and self-serving people. On the other hand, the Governor also enjoined the security agencies to always exercise great restraint and avoid use of force in managing peaceful protests.
In a statement in Abeokuta, Prince Abiodun, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Kunle Somorin, identified with the objectives of the protest against law enforcement agencies brutalising the citizens, insisting peaceful protest is a legitimate way of showing grievances against perceived high-handedness or injustice with any system.
This was the reason he has ensured that all the demonstrators arrested in the wake of the protest in Ogun State have been released, including the three suspects that were arraigned in court and remanded in a custodial centre on 12 October 2020, following his instruction to the State’s Attorney-General that Ogun State would not press the charges against them. In addition, the State will facilitate investigation into any act of brutality of citizens by law enforcement agencies, compensation of the victims, identification and holding the erring law enforcement officer accountable.
NBA warns against use of live bullets
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has warned security operatives against the use of life bullets on protesters across the states of the federation.
The body of lawyers warned that the use of life bullet on innocent and armless citizens will aggravate the already tensed atmosphere in the country as occasioned by alleged police brutality.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, National President of the association, Mr Olumide Akpata (SAN), called for the dismissal of policemen already indicted for brutality against the citizenry.
The senior lawyer said the call has become imperative so as to demonstrate good faith and commitment towards ensuring accountability, restoring confidence, and sanitising the system.
On its part, Akpata announced that the NBA will make its human and other resources available to independent investigation panel to be established by police and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the violations of human rights by the disbanded sars and other segments of the police.
Besides that, the NBA demanded an expedited audit of the various sars detention centers across the country, especially the notorious detention facilities in Awkuzu in Anambra state, the infamous human abattoir in Abuja and others in Lagos, Port Harcourt and other part of the country.