By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah Ejike Ejike, BODE GBADEBO AND EMAMEH GABRIEL, Abuja
Apparently in a bid to prevent impending surge in crime wave across the country, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu has set up a new tactical team, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), to replace the disbanded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
The IGP also ordered operatives of the defunct federal SARS to report to the Force Headquarters in Abuja for debriefing and other directives.
In a special media briefing at the Force Headquarters in Abuja on Sunday, Adamu had announced the scrapping of the FSARS nationwide with immediate effect and directed all operatives of squad.
This followed fierce protest to push the demand to scrap the FSARS championed by the hashtag, #EndSARS, littered by hundreds of complaints of victims and their family members, including wanton and illegal arrests, acts of extra-judicial killings, physical assaults, intimidation, accusations of fraud and forcefully dispossessing people of their money and properties.
Announcing the establishment of the new special force, Force PRO, DCP Frank Mba, in a statement he issued yesterday, said, “The IGP has set up a new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team that will fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS.
“In accordance with Section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020, ordered all personnel of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squads, SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.”
The Force PRO also explained that “the medical examination will be carried out by the newly set-up Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU), a unit, which henceforth shall engage in psychological management, re-orientation and training of officers of the Force deployed for tactical operations and other duties.
“The unit, which is domiciled with the Force Medical Department and coordinated by the Force Medical Officer, has its membership drawn from amongst psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, pastors and imams, Public Relations practitioners, Civil Society and other Human Rights groups with relevant qualifications and expertise,” he added.
Mba further noted that “prospective members of this new team will also undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.
“They are to commence training at the different Police tactical training institutions nationwide, next week. Personnel from the Police Commands in the South-East and the South-South will be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State, those from the Police Commands from the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively,” he noted.
Mba further noted that the IGP who reaffirmed his irrevocable commitment towards the successful and holistic implementation of the Police reforms enjoined members of the public, particularly protesting citizens to exercise restraint and allow measures being put in place to come to fruition and engender a Police Force that would meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
Meanwhile, following directive by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and immediate response to yearnings of citizens, IGP Adamu yesterday convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet the demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, the meeting organized by the office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners.
He said the ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the government.
A communiqué of the stakeholders’ meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) noted: “Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.
“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The Forum was addressed by the Inspector General of Police and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission. The Forum collectively: welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest; Further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.’’
According to the communiqué signed by the IGP and the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, the forum noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.
It stated: “The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.
“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.
“Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police: An order by the Inspector General of Police to all State Commands to halt the use of force against protesters; Unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens; Open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.
“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police. The Forum agrees to the setting up of this Independent Panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week. An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within one week.
“The Forum recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment. The Forum resolves to set up the following Technical Sub-Committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability and Financing and Partnerships.’’
The communiqué further stated that sub-committees will be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations.
Those who attended the meeting include Dr Kole Shettima- MAC Arthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA; Segun Awosanya (segalinks) – End Sars Movement; Yemi Adamolekun- Enough is Enough; Clément Nwankwo- PLAC; Rafsanjani- CISLAC; Kemi Okonyedo- PWAN; YZ – CITAD; Folarin Falana Falz; Prof Deji Adekunle –NIALS; Chris Ngwodo, SSA to President Research & Policy; Dr Fatima Waziri – Rule of Law Adviser OVP and Abdulrahman Yakubu – NHRC Secretariat.
Others are Hilary Ogbonna- NHRC secretariat; Halilu Adamu – NHRC Secretariat; Ben Aguh – NHRC secretariat; Dr Uju Agomuoh – PRAWA and Onyinye Ndubuisi – UNDP.
Similarly, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other segments of the Nigerian Police within the next one week.
The decision was taken at a Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum (MSF) in Abuja organised by the executive secretary of the NHRC, Ojukwu and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu as a follow-up to the recent disbandment of SARS by the IGP.
Ojukwu who disclosed this said there was an agreement by the forum that the Inspector General of Police should order all State Police Commands to halt the use of force against protesters and to release arrested protesters and citizens unconditionally.
According to him, “an open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within a week”.
He hinted that the Forum recommended the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.
The Forum, according to him, resolved to set up the following Technical Committees, to be supported by the NHRC and other Civil Society Organisations to design the roadmap and a work plan for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS.
Nigerians Have Right To Protest Brutality, Killings – Lawan
The Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, said yesterday that Nigerians acted within their rights to protest the killings and brutality meted against citizens by men of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) across the country.
Lawan stated this in his concluding remarks on a matter of personal explanation into the murder of Jimoh Isiaka by the Police, and attack on the Palace of Soun of Ogbomoso Land in Oyo State during the recent #EndSARS protests in some states across the country.
Earlier, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (APC, Oyo North), came under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules to note “the death of Jimoh Isiaka and several other promising youths, whose lives were cut short at their prime during the recent End SARs protest, which started on the 8th of October.”
According to the lawmaker, the right to peaceful assembly and free expression as a fundamental principle of any democracy, and enshrined in Section 40 of Nigeria Constitution 1999, guarantees the right of every Nigerian to peaceful protest.
Abdulfatai bemoaned the #EndSARS protest, which he said, snowballed into a confrontation between the security operatives and protesting youths in some parts of country such as Ogbomoso in Oyo State, where violence was recorded.
“For instance, the Nigeria Police were alleged to have injured seven (7) protesters and shot dead a young man known as Jimoh Isiaka, a Constituent of mine during the protest,” the lawmaker lamented.
He added that as a reaction to the death of Jimoh Isiaka, the palace of the Paramount Ruler of the city, the Soun of Ogbomoso land, was attacked by the protesters who destroyed properties and vehicles, with some palace officials sustaining injuries.
Responding, the Senate president described previous conduct of the disbanded FSARS as “unacceptable”.
“SARS was funded by public funds and the entire essence of having the Nigeria Police Force is to ensure that there is law and order, and that there is security for our people. When SARS turned against the people, it was right for the people to protest peacefully,” Lawan said.
The Senate president also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promising to bring to justice all those involved in perpetrating various atrocities against Nigerians.
He prevailed on Nigerians to suspend the #EndSARS protest, particularly in view of the recent disbandment of the police unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Lawan assured that those found culpable of Police brutality against Nigerians would be brought to face the weight of the law.
He noted: “I think the protest has yielded the desired result so far, and there may not be need to continue to have protests again when SARS has be disbanded.
“Those culprits who were involved in the killing and maiming of Nigerians will be brought to book.
“I think we should give the government the chance to implement those reforms as quickly as possible”.
The Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the National Assembly, Rochas Okorocha, also kicked against the arrest and detention of #EndSARS protesters across the country by the Police.
Rising under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule, the lawmaker drew the attention of the Senate to the #EndSARS protest across the nation.
He stressed the need for those arrested during the protest to be released from detention unconditionally by the Police so as to calm frayed nerves.
Okorocha called on the federal government to prosecute police officers who went out of the rules of engagement to harm Nigerians during the protests.
Govs Meet Today Over EndSars Protests
Meanwhile governors of the 36 states of the federation will meet today over the EndSars protests rocking the nation.
The head, media affairs, of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulrazaque Bello Barkindo, noted in a statement that the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu will brief the governors at the meeting.
He said, “The NGF will be holding its 19th Teleconference meeting tomorrow Wednesday October 14th 2020, the high point of which will be the entry of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu who will explain the security situation in the country to the governors, particularly regarding the FSARS protests”.
He also noted that the meeting convened by a notice from the Director-general of the NGF, Asishana Bayo Okauru, will also be briefed by the technical committee on electricity tariffs.
“The hike in the electricity tariffs almost set the country on a nationwide imbroglio as a sequel to the actions intended by Labour, few weeks ago, until the Governors intervened,” he added.
Barkindo further stated that the ministers of Works and Housing, Communications and Digital Economy and Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management will also be on hand to address the Governors, one after the other.
He stated: “The Humanitarian Resources and Disaster Management Minister, Saadatu Umar Farouk will be discussing how to lift a hundred million Nigerians out of Poverty with the Governors.
“Other matters that would be arising at the meeting would include the NESG Summit scheduled for the last quarter of the year, the conclusions of the distribution of palliatives by the Coalition Against Covid19 (CACOVID) a conglomeration of banks and some pubic spirited philanthropists including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), an update on the World Bank assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability program for results (SFTAS) and another on the Governor Okowa Committee which briefs the Governors regularly on the activities of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID19 pandemic.
“The Director General’s brief will thereafter conclude the meeting, the invite states.
Protest Grounds Enugu, Rivers, Others As Kanye West, Femi Kuti Show Solidarity
Meanwhile, major parts of Enugu metropolis were yesterday grounded following protest by thousands of youths demanding an end to police brutality.
The protesters chanted “End SARS now”, “Reform the Nigeria Police Force”, “Fine Boy no be Criminal”, among others while matching through different parts of Enugu.
They took off from Michael Okpara Square and headed to the Enugu State Police Command where they were received by the Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmad Abdurrahman.
Our correspondent who monitored the protest observed that vehicular movement and business activities were totally grounded by the protesters within major roads in the City.
Popular musician, Chinedu Izuchukwu Okoli, aka Flavour, and many other celebrities, including Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike, aka Phyno, Igbo rapper, Zoro, and Nollywood Actor, Ken Erics, were part of the protest.
Also, residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday ignored the order by state government banning the #EndsSARS protest as they trooped out in their numbers to march through the streets of the city.
The protesters went on with the campaign despite the presence of hundreds of fierce looking security operatives comprising of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) that were stationed at strategic locations in the state capital.
The locations include the two main entrances into the Rivers State Government House, the Police headquarters, Moscow Road, Isaac Boro Park and Pleasure Park, which was to serve as takeoff point for the protesters.
LEADERSHIP observed that apparently due to the presence of the security operatives, the protesters started gathering opposite the Pleasure Park from 9:00am instead of the scheduled 7:00am and move from there towards the city centre.
The protesters, mostly young men, who carried placards with the inscriptions, “#EndSARS”, “Justice For Sleek”, “End Police Brutality”, “We are tired of being Oppressed”, “Our lives matter” and many more, were chanting anti-Police songs as they march along the road.
Security operatives, especially the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), took over the two main entrances into the Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt, following threats by organizers of the #EndSARS protest to go ahead with the protest.
The state government had in a statement released late Monday night banned any form of protests in the stare, urging parents and guardians to advice their children and wards not to participate in the planned protest.
But, in a statement released early Tuesday morning, chairman of the Rivers State Civil Societies Organization, Enefaa Georgewill insisted that the protest would go on despite the threats from the state government.
However, LEADERSHIP observed that fierce looking security operatives took over the main entrances into the Government House, Port Harcourt as early as 4:30am with eight patrol vehicles.
The state governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, declared that he started the campaign for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) but did not get the needed supports from Nigerians.
Wike made the declaration while addressing the #EndSARS protesters who had blocked Government House gate in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The protesters had insisted that they would not vacate the main entrance into the Government House as well as the entire stretch of Azikiwe Road in Port Harcourt, except the governor comes out to address them.
Wike said, “Listen to me very well. I will say what you will not like. Most of you have supported us to be here and I took an oath to protect liv s and property. Every Rivers man and woman’s blood matter to me.
“What we have found in this country, nobody wants to say the truth. I will tell you the truth. If you came here to think that I will tell you what you want to hear, I won’t say so. I will say what I know is the truth.
As the #EndSARS protest continues across Nigeria, many celebrities in Nigeria and across the globe have continued to lend their support for the movement.
Some of them who have been speaking recently are America billionaire rapper, gospel singer and politician, Kanye West who posted on his twitter page that police must end its brutality against innocent Nigerians, adding that he would continue to stand by his Nigerian brothers and sisters in the country and calling on the government listen to the people.
“I stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, the government must answer to the people’s cries #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria,” he tweeted.
Also, veteran musician, Femi Kuti was spotted in a video on Instagram, expressing his displeasure with the Nigerian Police Force for their behaviour toward protesters.
His words: “I have been fighting for over 40 years to be precise, against this system of democratic rule where the Police have the authorization to shoot innocent protesters on the streets. What’s happening on the street of Nigeria right now is unacceptable. Every Police officer must be held accountable and the government must be held accountable for every life lost.
“This is a peaceful protest, the Police are meant to protect lives and property. The Police are meant to defend the citizens of this country and not kill the citizens. Thank you”.
Earlier, Davido met with the IGP recently to table the demands of protesters and why they should be met. The IGP has promised reforms and assured all that it won’t be business as usual.
Gbajabiamila Assures Nigerians Of Key Reforms In Nigeria Police
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has reiterated commitment of the House of Representatives to ensure that key reforms are institutionalised within the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).
The Speaker also recalled that the House had on Wednesday last week, urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, to produce an immediate plan for the identification and compensation for victims of police brutality in the country.
A statement signed his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, noted that Speaker Gbajabiamila made this known when he received a delegation led by popular Nigerian singer, David Adeleke (Davido), who came on a courtesy visit to convey to the Parliament deep grief of the Nigerian people over police brutality.
According to Gbajabiamila, the House identified with the need to reform the police and has taken steps to address the situation, such as the recent Police Reform Act.
LAWSAN Decries Detention Of Law Students, Others
Meanwhile, the Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) has decried the detention, molestation of a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus who was arrested at Ojuelegba Lagos, along with very many other Nigerians across the nation during the END SARS protest.
Addressing a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, national president, LAWSAN Dr. Blessing Agbomhere, criticized what he called the war against Nigerians by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force.
Agbomhere reiterated that the safety and protection of the life and property of Nigerians is the primary responsibility of the Nigerian government.
NBA Warns Security Operatives Against Use Of Life Bullets On Protesters
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday issued a stern warning to security operatives against the use of life bullets on the #EndSARS protesters on-going across the country.
The umbrella body of lawyers warned that the use of live bullet on innocent and armless citizens will aggravate the already tensed atmosphere in the country as occasioned by alleged police brutality.
National president of the association, Mr. Olumide Akpata l, at a Press Conference in Abuja canvased that the policemen already indicted for brutality against the citizenry must be dismissed from the services of the police.
He said that this had become important so as to demonstrate good faith and commitment towards ensuring accountability, restoring confidence, and sanitising the system.