President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is the first step to extensive police reforms by his administration.
Speaking in Abuja, yesterday, at the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the local government areas (LGAs) in the country, President Buhari in a statement by his special adviser media, Femi Adesina also directed that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts be brought to justice.
‘’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,’’ President Buhari 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 Engineer Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.
He continued: ‘’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 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.’’
Also speaking to State House correspondents, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo assured those still protesting that whatever would replace SARS would be acceptable.
“I think the clear message is that there is a government commitment to ensuring that the process of reforms, those who have committed wrongful acts are duly investigated and prosecuted.
“And that whatever replaces SARS is something that is acceptable, first of all compliance with all of the tenets of the rule of law.
I think these are deep issues that we are all concerned about, I don’t think one person is more concerned than others.
“I have also been involved in many cases of many young people trying to resolve these kinds of conflicts that have been reported. I think it is a good moment for the police force and for all of us to try and reform the police. We are all committed to it,” Osinbajo added.
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.
‘’The P-YES is also part of the plan that we adopted in 2016 in which we empowered one hundred youths from each of the 774 local government areas with the necessary tools to acquire skills and establish small businesses.
‘’Given the success of that initiative, we are now committed to creating 774,000 jobs across all the LGAs, through the P-YES programme,’’ he said.
President Buhari, who took a tour of P-YES tools and equipment displayed at the forecourt of Presidential Villa, expressed delight that the materials showcased represent the fruits of the initiatives embarked upon by his administration in 2016.