President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to bring all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to justice.
He declared that disbanding of SARS was the first step to extensive police reforms by his administration.
In the same vain, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said he has had cause to intervene in the past in cases of many young people in similar kinds of conflicts that have been reported.
According to the VP, disbandment of SARS was a good moment for the police and all Nigerians to reform the police, calling for the commitment of all.
Buhari gave the directive at the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the 774 local government areas of the country.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying: “I will like to use this opportunity to say a word on the recent genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force and in some cases extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the Nigerian Police Force.”
He said during the launch of the P-YES programme, attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, that “the disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people.
“We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice. We deeply regret the loss of life of the young man (Isiaka Jimoh) in Oyo State during the recent demonstrations. I have directed that the circumstances of his death should be thoroughly investigated.
“Meanwhile, it is important to recognise that the vast majority of men and women of the police force are hardworking and diligent in performing their duties. The few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force.”
On the empowerment programme, the president while restating his administration’s commitment to youth development and poverty alleviation pledged that the Federal Government policies of social protection and people empowerment would continue on track, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
The president, who described P-YES as a cornerstone of his administration’s social and economic development strategies, said it was part of the overall policy of ensuring that 100 million Nigerians were lifted out of poverty in ten years.
SARS offices shut
Twenty four hours after IG’s pronouncement, FSARS national headquarters and offices in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) haave been shut.
Daily Sun gathered that following the order by the IGP, operatives of the disbanded SARS, who hitherto took strategic positions at the entrance gate that housed both the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and the Special Tactical Team (STS), disappeared one after the other.
It was also gathered that the former SARS operatives have already taken their personal belongings out of their offices.
Yesterday morning, none of them reported for duty as their offices had been locked. A visit to the FCT SARS office at Guzampe, showed that the office of the former commander was under lock. It was the same tale with the interrogation room and other offices used by operatives.
A visit to the Federal Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), headquarters at Area Ten, Garki, housing the FSARS, and headed by Commissioner of Police Edward Kieswetter, showed his office empty, while he was awaiting redeployment and further instruction from the IGP.
Sources at the Force headquarters said the IGP was confused over the next line of action to take on how to accommodate officers in limbo.
The source said many of the officers may be dismissed eventually if ongoing investigation indicted them.
PDP demands complete overhaul of police
The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) has charged President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to completely overhaul and restructure the entire police architecture.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this was necessary to ensure professionalism, adherence to rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights of Nigerians by the police.
The opposition party also charged IGP Adamu to commence the profiling, arrest and prosecution of members of the defunct SARS and other errant police operatives allegedly involved in the reported series of extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrests and detention, extortion, harassment and dehumanisation of innocent Nigerians, especially in the last five years.
The PDP accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempting to trivialize and politicize the SARS issue, so as to allegedly detract from the “essence of the public protest against the excesses of the disbanded police outfit.”
According to the party, “Nigerians were shocked when a particular agent of the APC, in a tweet on Sunday, made false and diversionary allusions to the creation of SARS in a bid to divert attention apparently because of APC’s complicity in the atrocities being protested against by Nigerians.
The APC is apparently jittery because, whereas SARS was created in 1992, far before the coming to power of the PDP, it had turned monstrous within five years of the command of APC administration, under which our nation has witnessed horrific cases of arbitrary and extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, arbitrary detention, torture and reported disappearances as also detailed in the reports by the United States Department of State, Amnesty International (AI) and Transparency International (TI).
“The police system became monstrous when the APC administration started using operatives to hound and clamp down on opposition members and dissenting voices; violently attacking protesters as well as perpetrating violence to rig elections, during which they were deployed to shoot and kill innocent Nigerians and walk away with their crimes.”
Obaseki, Okowa laud IGP for dissolution of SARS, assures release of arrested protesters
Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has hailed the IGP for yielding to the demand of Nigerians to disband SARS.
In a statement, the governor said the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is a testament to people power, which is the beauty of democracy.
“As for the peaceful protesters arrested in different locations across Edo State, I have opened discussions with the State Police Command to effect their release,” Obaseki assured.
In his reaction, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta in a statement he personally signed yesterday in Asaba, described the disbandment of the squad as a “welcome development’’, and commended the Police for not suppressing the protests.
“The Nigerian youth can take pride in the fact that they have won a major victory for the right to free movement and association without let or hindrance,” he said.
Okowa added that the disbandment was a visible demonstration of how government agencies should respond to the grievances of the people and agitations for justice and good governance in a democracy.
“Finally, let me say that the IGP should not stop at disbanding SARS. That is but one step in the multiple steps required in carrying out a comprehensive reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Such a reform should cover matters relating to recruitment, training and welfare of the rank and file,” Okowa said.