By Lukman Olabiyi
The campaign against police brutality and extra-judicial killings continued on Friday with young Nigerians occupying the entrance of Lagos State House of Assembly Complex ignored the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Assemby Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa and others to vacate the area.
Friday made it third days the protest began nationwide, the protesters, who spent the night at the entrance of the complex were demanding an immediate response and immediate disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives of the Nigeria Police.
The youths decried harassment encountered in the hands of SARS operatives, lamenting the rate at which many young creatives are being battered and killed by trigger-happy police officers.
Yesterday, the state governor, Hamzat, Assemby speaker, Obasa,
lawmaker representing Surulere Constituency, Desmond Elliot and others addressed and appealed to the protesters to vacant the complex entrance but all their effort went in vain.
Hamzat while addressing the protesters said any officer of the squad found to.have harassed innocent Nigerian should be arrested and prosecuted.
‘It’s okay to protest but I say clearly that it is wrong for any law enforcement agent to maim or criminalise another Nigerian without reasonable course.
The police or the law enforcement agents must do their job. In doing that job, you cannot trample on the right of the citizens. You can not say our youths, because of their looks or they are carrying computer are guilty of a crime. The police job is to arrest people and send them for prosecution if they do something wrong. That tenets must be adhered to,” Hamzat said.
He added: “We are not against police fighting robbery but we are saying do not unjustifiably hurt our children because of their looks. Whoever is responsible should be arrested and prosecuted.”
The Deputy Governor however enjoined the protesters to be law abiding, adding inspite of the bad eggs among the police, their job is important to the safety of the citizenry.
“However people must understand there are processes to everything. If they say they want to continue staying at the government house forever, there is no problem but that process must still take place. We are not in a kangaroo country. We are a country of process.
It’s a mob mentality. Where there is a mob, things would happen. My message is that it is right for every Nigerian to be outraged if a young man or woman legitimately doing his or her job is attacked or maimed for no reason. We can not do that. However while carrying out the protest, we must also be peaceful so that we don’t break the law. This is because in breaking the law or property, we are hurting ourselves more. They should protest orderly and make it clear what they are clamouring for.
“You can’t block the road because what if somebody is going to the hospital and the person is dying. We must look at the society at large.
The same thing happened in other jurisdiction like the United States and some people said the police should be banned but does it make sense. The fact is they have a job to do but are they doing the job right? The answer depends on who you listen to. The bad eggs among them should be identified. The job of Police is important so they have a job to do and it.must be done.”
The agitation by the protesters forced Obasa who addressed them early in the morning to call for an emergency sitting of the House
to address the outrage trailing SARS in the state.
The lawmakers in resolution threw their weight behind the protest.
The House called on Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, to provide protection for the protesters while they express their grievances.
Among the seven-point resolution passed after an extensive deliberation was also that the National Assembly should carry out a probe of the allegations against F-SARS including killing, maiming and dehumanising of Nigerians.
The House also asked the Commissioner of Police to protect the #EndSARS Protesters in the state and ensure that they are not molested;
“The Commissioner of Police should stop unwarranted molestation of our youths by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad otherwise known as F-SARS and its counterparts in the State;
“The Senate President and the Speaker of National Assembly should institute public enquiry on the extra judicial activities, killings,maiming and dehumanization of our youths by the Anti- Robbery Squad ; ensure that the victims are duly compensated while erring officers sanctioned appropriately;
“SARS be proscribed and a new security outfit which will be more efficient with clearly spelt out code of conduct and rule of engagements be established while sanction is imposed for misdemeanor;
“Mr President to ensure that culpable officials of SARS receive the punishment as prescribed by the National Assembly;
“Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions liaise with the Commissioner of Police and Attorney General of the State to fashion out ways and means to address allegations of ruthlessness and extra judicial killings contained in the petition against SARS in the state;
And “The Governor of Lasgos State Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu engage relevant institutions to protect lives and property in the state such that phones, laptops and other means of communication belonging to youths are not confiscated indiscriminately without warrant.”