October 12, 2020

IGP disbands SARS, pledges advanced Police reforms

Oyo crisis: IGP deploys intervention, stabilisation forces

Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu

Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

…Gbaja hails Buhari, IGP for dissolving SARS

…Release all #EndSARS protesters, NBA tells IGP

…Police ‘assault’ Arise TV cameraman — shortly after ban on SARS

…I’ll never be part of any status quo where citizens’ right to life becomes negotiable —Bakare

…SARS, fundamental to pursuit of peace, tranquility – Zamfara Gov

…Catholic Church backs SARS’ dissolution, says security officers must repent for their extortion, brutality against civilians

…Police arraign 14 suspects in Ughelli

By Kingsley Omonobi, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Perez Brisibe & Gabriel Olawale

After days of persistent protests by youths nationwide against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, disbanded the unit.

Announcing the disbandment, the Police boss assured Nigerians of a determination to accelerate reforms of the Police system, saying “I assure the nation of our firm determination to advance our police reform agenda, with a view to bequeathing to our beloved nation, a police institution and system that are not only accountable to the citizens, but professional in all components of its service delivery. I call on all citizens to partner us in our drive for a peaceful and secure internal security order.”

Prior to the announcement of the ban by the police chief, #EndSARS protesters had clashed with the police in the Federal Capital City, FCT, Abuja, with the police dispersing them with tear gas.

The protesters had in the last four days protested at Force headquarters, insisting on getting the IGP to address and assure them of the scrapping of the special police unit.

This came yesterday as Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, also lent his voice to the protests, saying harassment, humiliation and the cold-blooded murders of fellow citizens must stop.

But Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, kicked against scrapping of SARS, arguing that its existence has continued to ensure law and order.

This is even as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, denied an online publication alleging that he prevented President Muhammadu Buhari from scrapping the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS.

However, the Catholic Church hailed the disbandment of the special police unit, and noted that the move would  bring security operatives to repent their impunity towards innocent citizens.

SARS disbanded in 36 states, FCT — IGP

Announcing SARS disbandment yesterday, the IGP said: “The current development in which cross sections of Nigerians are calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad as a unit in the Nigerian Police Force, has remained under constant monitoring and due assessment by the government.

“The government acknowledges the inalienable rights of citizens to freedom of association and expression. The current agitation, in this context, is seen as a manifestation of the natural desire of citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation. This is, indeed, one of the fundamental principles of community policing, which we are currently implementing.

“The Nigerian Police leadership has since the commencement of the protests, been engaging the leadership of some civil society organizations, with a view to initiating meaningful and wide-ranging discussions on the subjects of their concern.

“Our valued covenant with the citizens of this nation is to serve and protect them and integrate their concerns and views into our practices, especially within the dictates of community policing principles, which constitute a critical component of the National Policing and Internal Security Strategy of the federal government.

“Following a review of the current developments, and in due cognizance of the wide and legitimately held concerns of well-meaning citizens on the existence and operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, as a responsive and citizens-oriented Police Force, it is hereby directed as follows:

“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 states police commands and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where they currently exist.

“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be deployed with immediate effect. New policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the dissolved SARS shall be presented in due course.

“A citizens and strategic stakeholders forum will be formed to regularly interface with the leadership of the Police at all levels and advice on police activities.  To deal with the reports of crimes committed against citizens, an investigation team will be constituted which will include civil society organizations for transparency, and culprits will be punished.

“I commend the vast majority of men and women of the Nigerian Police who are diligently going about their duties, guided by the dictates of the rule of law, honour and professionalism. I encourage them to sustain their sense of national service, sacrifice, patriotism and commitment to crime fighting.

“Their gallant efforts to ensure the safety of the lives and property of all Nigerians are very much appreciated. I also commend all citizens that have voiced their genuine concerns for a better policing orientation in an organized, patriotic and civil manner.

“I assure the nation of our firm determination to advance our police reform agenda, with a view to bequeathing to our beloved nation, a police institution and system that are not only accountable to the citizens, but professional in all components of its service delivery. I call on all citizens to partner us in our drive for a peaceful and secure internal security order.”

Police disperse protesters

Before the ban, the Police had dispersed a crowd of protesters with live bullets, water cannons and tear gas in Abuja.

The protesters had converged to demand an end to police brutality and the disbandment of the special anti-robbery squad, SARS, which is notorious for human rights violations.

Adebayo Raphael, co-convener of the Centre for Liberty, narrated how the police onslaught on citizens happened yesterday.

“Fellow Nigerians, we have just been tear-gassed. I can’t see well now. My glasses are damaged. Someone got shot on the back of the head,” he said. They used teargas. They shot at us directly, and they used their water cannons.”

No peace for the wicked — Pastor Bakare

Reacting to the protests yesterday, Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday, said  the harassment, humiliation and the coldblooded murder of fellow citizens must stop.

Bakare, in his message, titled ‘’There is no peace for the wicked,’ at the church’s new auditorium in Oregun, Lagos, said he would never be part of any status quo where citizens become disposable or the right to life becomes negotiable.

He said:  “I applaud the resilience of protesters in the face of yet more reckless cruelty, and I am increasingly confident that this generation will succeed where mine has failed.

“I acknowledge the comments and efforts of the Presidency, state governments, the national and state assemblies, and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF. I also appreciate the need to find a delicate balance between curbing the spate of armed robbery as an occupation and acceding to the specific requests of protesters who have justifiably reached a saturation point.

“It is evident that SARS was created with noble anti-robbery intentions reminiscent of Operation Sweep, the late ‘90s anti-crime initiative of the Buba Marwa administration in Lagos. However, the grave irony of SARS is that it has become a grotesque embodiment of the problem it was created to solve and the tail is now wagging the dog.

“You simply cannot police a people without their cooperation, and you cannot obtain the cooperation of the people for a tactical unit they no longer trust. In the short-term, we must find a balance between retaining the anti-robbery intention and re-evaluating the identity of the vehicle by first expelling and prosecuting the criminal elements among the rank and file and the leadership.

“This is non-negotiable. We must re-evaluate, restructure, rebrand and rebuild confidence in an efficient and effective anti-robbery tactical unit, even as we work towards a more holistic and fundamental reconception of our security architecture on the journey to national rebirth.

“This savage Nigerian-on-Nigerian cannibalism must end, and I expect a decisive and lasting solution to be implemented, even as I commiserate with every Nigerian whose only crime was to be born Nigerian.

“I enjoin every aggrieved citizen to continue to find peaceful means to air discontents until we arrive at a version of Nigeria we can all be proud of. May the souls of the departed rest in peace, and may the living forge a nation worthy of the resounding courage of the young men and women of the #EndSARS movement.

Zamfara gov kicks against #EndSARS

Also reacting to the protests, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, in a statement by  spokesman, Zailani Bapoa, said the operation of SARS officers in Zamfara has helped to reduce criminal activities in the state.

He said:  “This vital unit of the Nigeria Police is fundamental to the pursuit of peace and tranquility in our communities. Here in Zamfara State, we cannot afford to do without their immense contribution to the success of our peace initiatives against banditry and other criminality.

“Our state has been over the years, bedevilled with incessant criminality especially banditry. The immense contribution of this unit of the Nigeria Police who work tirelessly to counter the criminals is on record for everyone to see.

“Doubtlessly, those who are vehemently against the operation of SARS in the country have more questions to answer from Nigerians.”

Evil people ascribing fake stories to me

On his part, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, denied an online publication alleging that he prevented President Muhammadu Buhari from scraping the  Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS.

He described the allegation as a concoction, falsehood from a diseased mind bent on causing disaffection against other people.

READ ALSO: EndSARS protest in Imo: Officer who cocked gun against protesters indicted by police

Adesina in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said:  “An online newspaper published by a so-called journalist notorious for fake stories has published that President Muhammadu Buhari was to have scrapped the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, on Friday, but was prevailed upon by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, not to do so.

“The tendentious publication claimed Adesina hinged his argument on the fact that ‘the administration should not surrender to Twitter warriors.’

“While the FSARS saga lasted, I did not say a word on it, whether publicly or privately. Why? It was not within my brief. It rested squarely with the Nigeria Police Force, which has its own spokesman.

“For the online publication to have cooked outright falsehood against me shows the riot that is going on in that space, in the name of journalism.

“The brain behind the blog had always twisted stories against me and his former employers would testify that I had officially reported him about twice, till I then declined to grant him interviews again.

“The publication should please be treated as what it is: lie from the pit of hell. A concoction, falsehood from a diseased mind, bent on causing disaffection against other people.”

Catholic Church backs SARS disbandment

Reacting, the Catholic Church threw its weight behind the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Police, saying the move will bring security operatives to repent for their impunity towards innocent citizens.

The Church, in a statementsaid: “The EndSARS campaign arose as a result of the deep frustration and suffering youths and other citizens have experienced in the hands of the Nigeria Police Force.

“Stories abound attesting to the fact that officers and men recruited for the purpose of securing the lives and property of citizens have unfortunately turned around to be a menace to the very citizen they are paid to protect.

“This in some ways reflects the poor value currently attached to the dignity of the human person in our country, including the value for life itself, by majority of political office holders and those officially in charge of the instruments of maintaining peace and order in our society.

“We aligned with this agitation (#EndSARS) by Nigerian youths but more so as a pathway to bettering governance in general and engendering mutual respect for citizens’ rights and dignity.

“Let the #EndSARS campaign be a conscience searchlight for all security officers. It ought to lead them individually and as a body to regret their acts of victimization and impunity.”

Police arraign 14 suspects  in Ughelli

Meanwhile, fourteen persons have been arraigned by Delta State Police command before an Ughelli Magistrate court in connection with last Thursday’s End SARS Protest in Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North local government area that led to the death of a police corporal and an unidentified protester.

The police corporal, identified as Stanley Etaga, and the unidentified protester, were reportedly killed while an operative attached to the Eagle Net Squad, Sergeant Patrick Okuone, also sustained life threatening injuries during the clash that ensued during the protest at the Otovwodo axis of Ughelli.

Six of the suspects were arrested in connection with the unrest on the day of the protest, while the other eight were arrested in connection with the killing of the police corporal, attack on Sergeant Okuone, as well as the damaging of police vehicles during the protest.

The six suspects; Ejenevwo Precious Mudiaga, Onome Ovie, Ovie Oghenebrume, Umukoro Joshua Takpor, Duku Evans and Oroghodo Friday, were charged in suit No. MU/193C/2020 on a one count charge of breach of peace by constituting themselves into a nuisance.

The other eight suspects made up of seven males and a female, namely Iboyi Emmanuel, Umukoro Rukevwe, German Oghenekevwe Precious, Moses Eduwekon, Oke John, Ogbonna David, Prosper John and Akpovwigho Eloho, were all charged in suit No MU/194C/2020 on a five-count charge to commit felony and murder, among others.

The prosecutor, Brenda Ejelonu, said the various offences contravened different sections of the criminal code Cap C21, Vol 1 laws of Delta State of Nigeria 2006.

The presiding magistrate, Ena Odjugo, granted the first six defendants N50,000 bail with one surety in like sum and subsequently ordered that the last eight defendants be remanded at the federal custodian centre, Sapele.

He also adjourned the case to October 29, 2020 for mention.

Free  #EndSARS protesters, NBA tells IGP

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammad Adamu to release everyone in it’s detention facilities across the country arrested in connection with the End SARS Protest.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata in a statement on his twitter handle, @OlumideAkpata noted that the association welcomes dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS by the IGP

The statement reads: “We now look forward to the constitution of the investigative team to review all reports of crimes committed against Nigerians by the defunct unit and the appropriate punishment of all those found culpable.

“As an organisation anchored on the promotion of rule of law and human rights, the NBA commits to partnering with the police and other Civil Society Organisations in these investigations.

“In the meantime, we call for the unconditional release of all Nigerians arrested on account of the #EndSARS protests and the immediate cessation of attacks on protesters.”

Police ‘assault’ Arise TV cameraman

Shortly after Mohammad Adamu, the inspector-general of police, disbanded the special anti-robbery squad (SARS), Francis Ogbonna, a photojournalist with Arise TV, was reportedly assaulted by operatives of the force.

Ferdinand Duruoha, a reporter with Arise TV, who was also with Ogbonna, said the incident occurred shortly after Adamu announced dissolution of SARS on Sunday. The TV station’s crew were at the premises in Abuja to cover the briefing on SARS by the IGP.

Duruoha narrated how his colleague was assaulted by the police while they were trying to get the reactions of some protesting youths on the disbandment of SARS.

“We took the IG’s message live on Twitter banning SARS, and on returning from that particular interview, we saw some youth along the road, protesting,” he said.

“While we where trying to speak to them and get their takes on the IG’s message, we were attacked by policemen who brutally assaulted Francis and broke his camera and Arise news camera.

This is the result of that brutalization. I am about taking him to the hospital but then we just need to get this as a sign of evidence of what the police has done.”

Gbajabiamila hails Buhari, IGP

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr  Femi Gbajabiamila has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for yielding to the demand of Nigerians to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

Gbajabiamila reacted through a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.

The speaker also commended “Nigerians, particularly the millions of young people at home and abroad, who saw a wrong and sought to make it right, who saw injustice and acted to put an end to it.”

According to him, “the dissolution of SARS, and the broader, ongoing reforms of the police that will follow, are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes”.

The Speaker called on the IGP, Mr Abubakar Adamu “to take practical steps to support and enforce this policy pronouncement.”