…7 arrested, 5 exotic cars impounded

…Lagos Assembly wants FSARS scrapped, replaced with new outfit

…Group seeks reform of all Police Units

By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja, Shina Abubakar, Perez Brisibe Omeiza Ajayi and Gabriel Ewepu

Gunshots and violence yesterday greeted protests and campaigns which entered its second day in various cities across the country calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force over alleged harassment and extrajudicial killing of the citizens.

The protest had on Thursday claimed the life of a police officer in Ughelli, Delta state.

Several celebrities took to the streets leading the protesters on the first day of the protest. Two music stars, Falz and Runtown led the protest in Lekki alongside other young Nigerians on Thursday calling for outright ban of SARS while Mr Macaroni and other youths staged an overnight protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly in Alausa, Ikeja, as the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, summoned an emergency  meeting of the  house amid the continued protests.

The protesters then reconvened in Alausa on Friday to continue the protest even as the Lagos Assembly demanded the proscription of the FSARS, and the introduction of a new and well-structured security outfit in its place. Many other states including Delta, Osun, Imo, Oyo have also witnessed demonstrations, as calls for an end to the activities of the police unit gathered momentum.

Lagos

On day two, the protest in Lagos which was led by Runtown and Falz, spread to Lagos/Ibadan Expressway with road users being compelled to join the protest which was almost hijacked by street urchins. The protest also moved to other areas of Lagos metropolis like Agege, Iyana-Ipaja, Ikeja and Abule-Egba.

One of the co-conveners of the protest, Comrade Gbenga Komolafe said, “#ENDSARS movement is a protest of all poor working people and youth against the atrocious brutality and wanton extortion the so-called SARS have become renowned for. Today, self mobilized young people who are the worst victims of the SARS atrocities are out. We join voices with others to demand that the SARS be scrapped immediately while a better trained outfit put in its place, if necessary.

So many innocent people have fallen victims of the so called SARS operatives’ atrocities over time and this is not the first time there would be a popular clamour for its scrapping but the Police authorities have always come out with spurious ‘reform’ programs that hardly have changed nothing over time,”

While calling for the proscription of FSARS and the introduction of a new and well-structured security outfit in its place, the Lagos State House of Assembly also called on the Commissioner of Police, CP, in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, to provide protection for the protesters as they expressed their grievances.

In its seven-point resolution after an extensive deliberation, Lagos Assembly asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to carry out a probe of the allegations against F-SARS including killing, maiming and dehumanising of Nigerians.

Part of the resolution read: “The Commissioner of Police Lagos State should protect End-SARS Protesters in the state and ensure that they are not molested

“The Commissioner of Police should stop unwarranted molestation of our youths by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad otherwise known as F-SARS and its counterparts in the State

“The Senate President and the Speaker of National Assembly should institute public enquiry on the extra judicial activities, killings, maiming and dehumanization of our youths by the Anti- Robbery Squad; ensure that the victims are duly compensated while erring officers sanctioned appropriately

“SARS be proscribed and a new security outfit which will be more efficient with clearly spelt out code of conduct and rule of engagements be established while sanction is imposed for misdemeanor

“Mr. President to ensure that culpable officials of SARS receive the punishment as prescribed by the National Assembly

“Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions liaise with the Commissioner of Police and Attorney General of the State to fashion out ways and means to address allegations of ruthlessness and extra judicial killings contained in the petition against SARS in the state.

“The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu engage relevant institutions to protect lives and property in the state such that phones, laptops and other means of communication belonging to youths are not confiscated indiscriminately without warrant.”

Osun

In Osogbo, Osun state, mobile policemen, on Friday shot sporadically into the air at Olaiya junction to disperse daring youth protesters who stormed major streets of the state capital calling for an end to the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The protesters thronged the roads as early as 10am singing solidarity songs against the illegal activities of the squad.

To further display their displeasure with the activities of SARS operatives, the protesters headed to the State Police Command Headquarters to register their grievances to the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Undie Adie and inscribed #ENDSARS on the Command’s wall.

However, while they were returning the protesters clashed with the mobile policemen stationed at the Olaiya junction while the security personnel attempted to forcefully disperse them.

READ ALSO: Police dismiss video alleging SARS killing in Delta

The youths in an attempt to resist the gun wielding policemen pelted the security personnel with satchet water and began to mobilise more members to the scene.

The security operatives then began to shoot sporadically into the air to disperse the protesters and in the process created panic among traders in the area, forcing many shop owners to run for safety.

Meanwhile, the protesters, who had earlier scampered for safety regrouped to secure the release of some of their colleagues who were arrested by the mobile policemen, attached to the Armoured Personnel Carriers in the area.

Meanwhile, the protesters who commenced their procession at Shasha area of Oke-Baale to Ayetoro through Old-Garage, Olaiya to the State Secretariat at Abere had been to the State House of Assembly, where they were addressed by the Chief Whip, Babatunde Olatunji.

Many of them were on commercial motorcycles while others were in vehicles throughout the protest, which resulted into a gridlock along Ogo-Ogoluwa area of the state, as some of them blocked the road with their motorcycles and vehicles.

While calming down the protesters, the Assembly’s Chief Whip said since SARS was a creation of the Nigeria Police, the team can better be engaged by the institution rather than allowing its operatives to engage in extra judicial killings.

“Just some weeks ago we lost a youth in this state as a result of the action of some security operatives. It could be anybody. Several lives have also been lost in this regard. We owe Nigerians duty to protect lives and property. SARS is a creation of the police and we also believe that they can be engaged else they will continue to kill innocent Nigerians”.

Speaking with Newsmen, the Police Public Relations Officer, Yemisi Opalola appealed to the protesters to be peaceful, saying the Commissioner of police had complied with the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu’s directives to stop SARS operatives from the streets.

Delta

In Ughelli, Delta state, seven persons have been arrested in connection with yesterday’s clash between a team of policemen and some protesters. Security sources from the Ughelli Police Area Command told Saturday Vanguard that five exotic cars belonging to the protesters were also impounded.

Though efforts to speak with the state police public relations officer, Onome Onowakpoyeya were fruitless as at the time of this report, the source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspects would be charged to court upon completion of investigation.

CSO calls for FSARS’ reform, not ban

Meanwhile, a pro-democracy group, the Citizens Action for Good Governance has urged the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, to reform all units in the Nigeria Police, and kicked against the outright ban of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

At a media parley Friday in Abuja, National Coordinator of the group, Nazir Galadanchi also cautioned against playing into the hands of Fifth Columnists who he said had been seeking a way of weakening national security.

While the group conceded that the roguish behaviour of some SARS operatives against Nigerian youths has fuelled the current outcry for the disbandment of the unit, it added that “there is no need to be in a hurry to end SARS because of few bad eggs who have given the unit a bad name and put it in a bad light before the world”.

“We have taken special note of the public outcry against SARS and observed with all sense of responsibility that there should be a productive reformation of not only SARS operations but the entire operations of all units of the Nigeria Police Force. We urge Nigerians to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the reformation of SARS is the required recipe for taming crimes and enhance security of lives and property. For the avoidance of doubt, the necessity to abate the preponderance of armed robberies on highways, towns and communities led to the formation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which is a unit under the Nigeria Police Force.

“Those agitating for the outright scrapping of the Unit are definitely oblivious of the consequences of their agitations on the fight against armed robbery and other heinous crimes bedeviling the society at large. The country is presently facing serious security challenges. We urge well-meaning Nigerians to be pragmatic and rise up to join the advocacy for the reformation of SARS to achieve optimal productivity and not get carried away by the phantasmagoria of deceits by sinister forces under the guise of #EndSARS. We acknowledge the excesses of the overzealous operatives of SARS and it’s our fervent hope that those bad elements will be flushed out of the Police Force by the Inspector General of Police and made to face the law for abuse and brutality against many innocent Nigerians who were victims of circumstances. In corollary, we charge law abiding Nigerians to be wary of the antics of subterranean forces with determination to create upheavals in the polity through the end SARS agitations. Ending SARS means giving license to Armed Robbers to unleash terror”, the group submitted.

It also asked for regular medical checks for SARS operatives “to identify those with mental issues, psychological challenges, drug addiction and others, in order to prevent unnecessary provocations, intimidations and oppression”.

vanguardngr.com

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