From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) on Wednesday apologised to Nigerians over the excesses of some policemen that led to the #EndSARS protest in October 2020, saying the police have learnt their lessons and appropriate steps are being taken to ensure effective policing of the country.
The disclosure was made by the new Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 11, comprising Oyo and Osun States, Mr. Agunbiade Oluyemi, during his working/familiarization visit to Oyo State, where he was received by the new Commissioner of Police in the state, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko.
The AIG, who held a meeting with strategic stakeholders in the security architecture of the state that include religious, traditional and market leaders, as well as the leadership of the Police Community Relation Committee (PCRC), also held another private meeting with top police officers in the state.
During the meeting with the stakeholders’ meeting, he stated that the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was set up for surprise operations against armed robbers. He added that some personnel of SARS got it wrong when they began to arrest suspected Internet fraudsters as well as undergraduates or youths with laptops on the road.
The AIG also told members of the public to report anybody that calls himself a policeman and appears in mufti on the road. He said the force headquarters has mandated every policeman that must carry out an assignment on the road or highway to wear his uniform.
He also warned people to stop tagging crime and criminal activities to any ethnic group, noting that such act is capable of causing ethnic crisis. He stated further: “We want all the stakeholders that are here to appeal to the public that the police are now back stronger and we are ready to work for you. We are going to have robust public relationship with you and we want you to have confidence in us and give us useful information.
“There is no way criminals will be more than us. The crime they have committed affected all of us. We are not going to allow criminals have their way and we have rolled out new strategies in tackling the criminals. The newly Police Constabularies that were just recruited will be complementing the Nigerian Police Force in the areas of intelligence gathering for effective service delivery, and we have also marked out some strategies that will make our job more easier and effective.”
He explained that he came to rekindle the police officers and the stakeholders on the need to work in collaboration with each other, saying: “It is also to give them the mantra of the Inspector General of Police (Mohammed Adamu) as to robust public relations and to address my men on the need for training and retraining to enhance the capacity, capability and the competence of the police officers. It is also to assure members of the public that we are now ready. We are coming back in full. We are not going to allow criminals to have their way anymore.”
“We have learnt a lot of lesson from the #EndSARS and that is going to be the end of our affairs with members of the public. Now, we are out to protect the protesters and that protesters can always have their ways and we will make sure that it is not hijacked by hoodlums, who hijacked the #EndSARS protest and turned it to a different things entirely. They turned it to hooliganism and destroyed property. They even killed police officers. They became tyrannical. They became criminals, whereas the #EndSARS has made us to know that we have to ensure that no stone is left unturned in term of our policing strategy.
“So, I am here to restrategise with my men. I have spoken to the stakeholders. We will let you know by the time we start to roll out our strategies. We will not let the cat out of the bag now. You will see the difference. In Oyo State, you would have seen that the new Commissioner of Police too, has come up with a lot of strategies and by the time she starts to dole it out, you will see it.”