…Commuters spend hours in gridlock as protesters shut Lagos, Sanwo-Olu sues for calm
…CSO petitions US, UK, EU to place visa ban on Oyo Police CP, family members
…Davido meets IGP over police brutality against civilians
…Disbanding SARS first step to extensive police reforms, says Buhari, orders investigation into Oyo killing
…Says few bad eggs shouldn’t be allowed to tarnish force’s image
…SARS‘ll be replaced with something acceptable — OSINBAJO
…Training of new unit taking over from SARS begins next week – IGP, says new unit won’t absorb erstwhile SARS members
…PDP demands overhaul, restructuring of Police force
By Kinsley Omonobi, Demola Akinyemi, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Evelyn Usman, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Gabriel Ewepu, Dirisu Yakubu, Luminous Jannamike, Esther Onyegbula & Shina Abubakar
Despite disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, #EndSARS protesters in different parts of the country poured onto the streets yesterday, demanding extensive reforms of the Police force. At least one person was shot dead in Lagos.
One policeman of the Anti-kidnapping unit was also killed, while two others are in critical condition in an undisclosed hospital.
Aside from Lagos, which experienced a virtual shutdown that resulted in traffic gridlocks and rendering motorists and commuters stranded for hours, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, Osogbo, Osun State capital and Ilorin, Kwara State, also witnessed more protests which had gone on for days.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, had at a function in Abuja yesterday, promised extensive reform of the Police, the protesters were not assuaged.
They listed five demands which the Federal Government must meet for the protests to cease.
They include immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; setting up of an independent body to oversee investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct (within 10 days); psychological evaluation and retaining of all disbanded SARS officers before redeployment; and increase in police salary, so they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.
Protests ground major areas of Lagos
In Lagos, areas such as the Lekki-Epe expressway toll gate, Murtala Muhammed International Airport toll gate, Alausa, Ikorodu Road, Surulere and Yaba, among other major arteries of the metropolis were grounded, forcing traffic to a standstill.
Passengers who could not access the terminal building, missed their flights due to shutdown of the toll gate.
At Lekki, the protesters had massed at the toll gate as early as 4:00am, making it impossible for workers and others to get to their destinations.
They bore placards with such inscriptions as ‘’Say No to Illegal Arrest of youths’’; ‘’# 1 Nigeria is Possible if all right is respected and protected’’; Stop Police harassment, brutality,’’ now, among others.
The protesters also barricaded Alausa section of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and environs, and blocked the road leading to the Governor’s Office and the State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja.
Protester shot dead in Surulere
However, at Surulere, the protest took a violent dimension as one of the protesters was allegedly shot dead by the Police .
Police sources told Vanguard that some armed hoodlums who hijacked the protest, fired at some policemen, at Area ‘C’ Ojuelegba, and in the bid to disperse the protesters, some policemen reportedly fired indiscriminately, with stray bullets hitting two persons around the National Stadium.
The gunfire made protesters scamper in different directions. It was learned that efforts by the medical team to resuscitate one of the protesters failed as he reportedly died on the way to the hospital.
His death sparked off a renewed protest as his colleagues besieged the Surulere Police division .
A motorist, Mrs Patricia Anyadu, who spoke with Vanguard said: “I had to abandon my car and fled for dear life because of the sporadic gunshots from the police and some hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful protest.
“I think at this point, the protesters should be called to order because if this continues, it may lead to more deaths. The cause they fought for (#EndSARS) was a just one, and the timely response of the Police High command is commendable. But dragging it too far portends danger.”
Motorists moving from Eko Bridge inward Barracks were held in traffic for many hours.
Due to the protest at Barracks, traffic from Fadeyi to Ketu, Ojota of the metropolis was grounded.
A motorist, Daniel Akinbowale, reacted this way: “I have been stuck on this road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, for three hours without any movement. I thought the FG has proscribed SARS, so what’s the complaint about again from the protesters?
“Government should do something quickly before it gets out of control. We can’t be subjected to this kind of hardship forever.”
Similarly, at abour 11 am, youths from Iba Housing Estate, Iyana School, Lagos State University, LASU, Obadore shut down Iba-LASU Expressway, carrying placards amd asking the police to stop the brutality of Nigerians.
Gov Sanwo-Olu calls for calm
The situation in the state yesterday compelled Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to appeal for calm. The governor, who left the weekly State Executive Council, SEC, meeting to intervene, told the .
demonstrators that their protest was legitimate, but pleaded with them not to block the roads while passing on their grievances to the authorities.
He said: “Your voice has been heard clearly and a clear pronouncement has been made on the activities of SARS. The operation has been dissolved by the police leadership and just a moment ago, Mr. President addressed the nation on the issues you have raised.
“The President has said all SARS officers involved in the killing of innocent people and engaging in human rights abuses will be brought to justice.
“My stance on this #EndSARS is unmistakable and I have told you that we identify with this protest because you have legitimate concerns. I am saying it again here that this protest is in good faith. But, we must not be unruly when going out on a protest like this. We want you to be peaceful and decorous in expressing yourselves.”
Sanwo-Olu said he spoke with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, on Monday to outline the position of the Lagos State Government on police reforms, adding that he will visit President Buhari on Tuesday (tomorrow) and present the demands of Lagos youths on the issues.
In Abuja, the #EndSARS protesters again stormed the headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force as well as the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union to press home the fresh demands.
Visa ban demand on Oyo CP, family
But, at the three diplomatic houses visited in Abuja, a civil society organization participating in the protest, Concerned Nigerians, filed separate petitions calling for a visa ban on Oyo state police commissioner, Nwachukwu Enwonwu and the members of his family.
Reading a copy of the petition before journalists during the protest, convener of the group, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said: “We appeal to the United States of America and other development partners of Nigeria to place a visa restriction on the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Nwachukwu Enwonwu, and members of his family over his handling of the ongoing EndSARS protest which has led to extrajudicial killings and several human rights violations in the state.
“Despite the pronouncement of the ban yesterday (Sunday) on the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, rights violations have continued in the country, especially in Oyo State, where another citizen was killed.
“Freedom of assembly, which is one of the pillars of democracy, is now almost a crime in Nigeria. If this request is granted, it will serve as a deterrent to others who continue to toe the path of violating citizen’s rights.”
Davido meets IGP
Meanwhile, Nigerian singer, David Adeleke, a.k.a. Davido, met IGP Adamu, in his office over the issue of police brutality against civilians.
Davido was accompanied by top Nigerian music executive, Ubi Franklin, his manager, Asa Asika, lawyer, and some members of his DMW label.
As at press time, no official statement had been released on the outcome of the meeting.
They also sought an executive pronouncements disbanding the unit from President Muhamadu Buhari.
In Osogbo, Osun State, the protesters converged on the popular Nelson Mandela Square at Old Garage around 8am and walked through Olaiya junction to Ogo-Ogoluwa, stopped briefly at the House of Assembly before heading to the Governor’s Office, bearing placards.
The peaceful protest, however, led to a gridlock on the Osogbo-Gbongan road as motorists were left with no choice than to drive behind them.
Speaking with journalists in Osogbo, one of the conveners of the protest, Seyi Adelaja, said the protesters decided to continue their agitation because they did not trust the pronouncement of the IGP on the disbandment, adding that similar pronouncement had been done in the past only for SARS to resurface after sometime.
“Our demands, apart from seeking an executive order to disband SARS, also include total reformation of the police to serve the citizenry rather treats us like animals.” he said.
Protesters ground Ilorin
In Kwara State, youths Nigerian youths in Ilorin joined their counterparts in other states of the federation to protest against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Hundreds of the angry youths with placards on #EndSARS, went round Taiwo, Unity, Post Office Murtala Mohammed way, Sawmill area, Offa garage area and other major streets of Ilorin to protest what they described as the nefarious activities of SARS on Nigerians, particularly the youths.
As they went around, they sensitized the residents in shops, offices and people in vehicles, seeking their cooperation against the activities of the police unit.
Receiving the protesters on behalf of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, his deputy, Mr Kayode Alabi, assured the protesters that their complaints had been heard.
Alabi, who noted that the disbandment of SARS as a unit was beyond any state government, said the governor would meet with representatives of the protesters at the Presidential lodge today October at 2pm in order to chart a way forward.
Earlier, representative of the protesters, Olushola Olayemi, said: “It’s high time we took a collective position on the nefarious and fraudulent activities of SARS against Nigerians, particularly the youths. Enough is enough. We have come here to seek the support of Your Excellency because we believe in you.”
In Calabar, Cross Rivers State, about 1000 protesters, including celebrities, took over major streets to protest against all forms of Police brutality.
Vanguard gathered that the protest which started at about 10:00am, saw many residents of Calabar take to the streets causing gridlock along most popular and commercial roads, including Mary Slessor by Watt Market, Marian Road, IBB Way, Murtala Mohammed highway, and others.
They further took the protest to the Governor’s office, headquarters of the state police command where they were addressed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Samuel Musa.
The protest was joined by popular Calabar celebrities; artistes, comedians, actors, and activists who also expressed dissatisfaction over the unprofessional conduct of some police officers.
SARS disbandment, first leg of Police reforms — Buhari
Disturbed by the spate of protests in the country yesterday, despite the disbandment of SARS, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was the first step to extensive police reforms by his administration.
Speaking 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 also directed that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts be brought to justice.
He said: “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.
“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.”
SARS replacement’ll be acceptable — Osinbajo
Also speaking on the issue, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo assured Nigerians that whatever would replace SARS would be something that will be acceptable and must comply with the tenets of the rule of law.
Fielding questions from the State House correspondents after the launch on whether the government would accede to the five demands from the ‘ENDSARS’ protesters, Vice President Osinbajo said: “I think the most important thing is that SARS has been disbanded and that the IGP has also committed to ensuring they not only disband, but that whatever takes its place has the full participation of the civil society groups and all other stakeholders.
“A few minutes ago, the President also spoke about it. The disbandment of SARS is only the first stage in a full scale reform of the police force. I think everyone is now committed to seeing a police force and also a law enforcement agency that will meet the expectations of Nigerians.”
On his message for those still protesting, Prof. Osinbajo said: “I think the clear message is that there is a government commitment to ensuring 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 and human right rights…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.”
Training of new unit to replace SARS begins next week, IGP tells Davido
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday disclosed that the training of a new police unit to take over from the disbanded Special Anti -Robbery Squad (SARS) will begin next week.
IGP Adamu made the disclosure when he received popular musician, David Adeleke, aka Davido, in his office at Force Headquarters over the ongoing #EndSARS protests.
He noted that with the scrapping of SARS, there was need to get a new structure to carry out the duties of the defunct police unit, which is fighting violent crimes.
Adamu assured that the new outfit would be intelligence-driven, properly trained and only act on special occasions that require their attention.
He said the unit will be made up of fresh personnel with a fresh orientation and not officers from the scrapped unit.
Noting that opportunities would be created for members of the public to participate in and make inputs to the formation of the new unit, the IGP said this was the first time the police had decisively taken the decision to dissolve SARS and called for calm as they continue to resolve all the issues.
He said Davido‘s visit to talk about the issue was the best way to deal with the current problem, promising that with the formation of the new unit, corrections would be taken from the experience of SARS.
“We just disbanded SARS yesterday (Sunday), so protesters should calm down and give us time to fix the problem. The general public will be part of the process of getting a new outfit.
“I’m talking to you, so I will keep talking to many others and get civil societies involved and get their input towards the new unit,” Adamu said.
Promising to investigate all cases of brutality and bring perpetrators to book, the IGP said: “The issue of compensation to the families of those affected by SARS’ would be addressed when investigations are concluded. We want justice to be done and justice will be done.”
He said officers of the disbanded outfit would be retrained and given other responsibilities in the Force, but would not be reabsorbed into the new unit.
“We admit the trust gap is wide but we will work to bridge that gap,” he said.
Earlier, Davido called for every officer who is part of SARS to be relieved of their duties and demanded the immediate release of all arrested protesters.
He also called for justice for the victims of SARS’ brutality and compensation for their families.
Go beyond SARS disbandment — PDP
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called for the restructuring of the Police force.
The party said: “No indicted officer should be reassigned and allowed to go unpunished after such heinous crime against the Nigerian people.
“Those who killed, maimed, dehumanized and foisted a reign of terror on innocent Nigerians must be made to answer for their devilish actions. Anything short of this will amount to granting official cover to felonious elements and a tacit encouragement of further perpetuation of such crimes against Nigerians.”
That said, the party picked holes at the alleged moves by the ruling party “to use a certain impostor as spokesperson in the social media to attempt to trivialize, politicize and detract from the essence of the public protest against the excesses of the disbanded police outfit.