By Sunday Ani
A civil society group, Activists for Good Governance (AGG), has demanded for the total police reform as the only action that would assuage the anger of Nigerians against the atrocities committed by the dreaded police outfit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), stressing that just announcing the disbandment of SARS was not satisfactory enough.
Addressing journalists yesterday at a press conference in Ogba area of Lagos, Gbenga Soloki said AGG was impressed with the resilience and unwavering determination of the youths to end police brutality as represented by the #endsars campaign, but appealed to them to be very cautious so as not play into the hands of the fifth columnists.
He also appealed to the protesting youths not to other innocent Nigerians from going about their normal businesses, reminding them that the protest was not against fellow Nigerians, but a struggle to end SARS. “This is not a protest against fellow Nigerians. Preventing them from going to their market places and offices is to isolate people who are ordinarily sympathetic to our cause. Many Nigerians are just trying to pick up pieces of their lives together as the nation gradually reopens from COVID-19 induced lockdown. This is a struggle to end SARS and not a fight against our fellow country men and women. We must be discerning, strategic and focused,” he stated.
He said AGG was also demanding for an immediate establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry to unravel how the operations of the disbanded SARS descended into raw criminality. “The Judicial Commission of Inquiry should invite victims of SARS atrocities to appear and testify before the commission. The Commission should have the power to subpoena banks and other financial institutions to provide the BVN and other accounts details of SARS officials who own a PoS with which payments have been demanded and obtained at gun points from victims of indiscriminate arrests at any point in time,” he added.
The group, he said, believes that those found to have committed crimes must be prosecuted and punished accordingly. “We must not allow those that committed atrocities to escape by being hastily redeployed to other units of the Police. Their trial must be made public so as to show the commitment of the Police High Command to sanitise the rank and file of the Police Force,” he noted.
He further said the AGG is also demanding that the money extorted from hapless Nigerians at gun points must be retrieved and refunded to their rightful owners.
Soloki said the AGG strongly believes that above steps would also be taken to pacify aggrieved Nigerians and restore confidence in the Police going forward.
He said AGG was calling for a temporal suspension of the street protest to allow the Federal Government and Police authorities carry out the promised reform, but warned that failure to practically adhere to the yearnings of Nigerians would force it to mobilize for a coordinated action against the government.
“Government needs to demonstrate genuine commitment to fulfill promises made so as to restore confidence of the people. Nigeria has the opportunity to rally the civil society and organized private sector now to stem the tide and win the trust of the Nigerian people by implementing a comprehensive reform of the Police.
“If we do not see a genuine demonstration of this commitment within coming days, the AGG will not hesitate to cal out its members across the country for a coordinated action against the Federal Government; the type that would make the ongoing protests look like kindergarten prep,” he submitted.