Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has told #EndSARS protesters that their feelings of frustration are justified, even as he apologised to them for keeping silent and having not done enough to stop police brutality in the country before now.
His apology came even as the protesters continue their agitation in several cities including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan.
Osinabjo, in a Twitter thread, via his verified handle @ProfOsinbajo, declared as unacceptable that many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police.
The Vice President also sent his deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of he referred to as “wayward police officers”.
He said several meetings had been held with government officials and actions were being taken, including the disbanding of SARS, to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.
I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.
I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough.
These feelings of frustration are justified.
There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.
Several meetings have been held with: the Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Speaker of the House Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the IG of the Nigerian Police (IGP), the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commision Nigeria, and governors.
We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.
The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.
With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.
I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.
We have proposed that each state government sets up a Victims’ Support Fund, which the Nigerian Government will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.
We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
On Monday, Mr. President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms.
We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust.
Keep safe. God bless you.
Prof Yemi Osinbajo,SAN,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.