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Soldiers brutalize newsmen, #EndSARS protesters in Abuja

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Abuja #EndSARS protesters storm Force HQ, demand to see IGP…As Police announce SWAT to replace SARS

…Buhari okays 5-point demand by ‘EndSARS’ protesters, as Police reforms begin

…Protesters continue rallies on Lagos roads

…Sanwo-Olu orders release of arrested protesters, promises N200m compensation to families of victims

…Protesters defy Wike, storm Port Harcourt streets; gather at Govt House

…Wike says he won’t join protest  because nobody listened when Rivers was affected

…Ebonyi youths demand justice for victims of Police brutality

…Zulum asks IGP to redeploy disbanded SARS to fight Boko Haram in Borno

…IGP orders SARS personnel to report at Force Hqtrs for debriefing

EndSARS protesters who stormed the National Assembly to register their grievances against the special unit of the police to the leadership yesterday had a raw deal in the hands of soldiers deployed to the area.

Also yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Muhammed, announced the setting up of a new Special Weapons and Tactics Team, SWAT, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

These came on a day the protests spread to Port Harcourt in Rivers State; Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Ondo states, continued in Ibadan, Oyo State, even as it escalated in Lagos and Kaduna states.

The protest in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt, was particularly triggered by the governor, Nyesom Wike, who banned any such protest in his state.

Barely a few hours after the ban by the governor, youths in their hundreds defied the ban, trooping onto the streets of Port Harcourt to join their colleagues who had been on the protest nationwide for up to a week.

This is even as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, to respond to the five demands of protesters against the brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

Soldiers maul protesters in Abuja

The protest in Abuja, which entered its sixth day, started as a peaceful demonstration, as the protesters marched to the National Assembly to register their complaints against SARS and the need for reformation of the police force before the leadership.

Exactly one kilometre to the NASS complex, the #EndSARS protesters ran into a military road block, chanting solidarity songs.

They were stopped by the soldiers at the same point mobile policemen sprayed them with water cannon last weekend.

As the protesters continued their rendition of the National Anthem, the soldiers asked them to retreat but they insisted on seeing principal officers of the National Assembly.

An argument ensued between both parties, following which the soldiers descended on  two Arise Television cameramen and the protesters.

The soldiers hijacked one of the cameras, arrested the cameraman and used the butt of their rifles to attack the protesters, including journalists in their midst.

As the camera was seized, the the Arise TV reporter dissolved into the protesters and continued his reportage of the incident.

Consequently, only his voice was heard on air without visuals, as the camera had already been seized by the soldiers.

The females among the protesters could be heard screaming in the background of the report. It was later learned that the soldiers used tree branches to flog the protesters.

After about 40 minutes of the melee, the camera was returned to the crew of the television station but the soldiers stood their ground, insisting that the protesters would not enter the NASS complex.

NASS members remained indoors

One of the protesters, who pleaded anonymity, lamented that for the period their torture in the hands of the soldiers lasted, no lawmaker from the National Assembly intervened, even though they were at plenary at the time.

When the situation simmered, the EndSARS protesters continued with their agitation for reformation of the Police.

Protests escalate in Lagos

In Lagos, protesters refused to retreat, despite pleas by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had been appealing to them in the last  48 hours to do so, as they continued to ground businesses and vehicular movements across the state yesterday.

It will be recalled that #EndSARS protesters stormed major highways in Lagos and other states in the country on Monday, on the sixth day of their protests against police brutality, harassment, and violation of human rights, particularly against youth on the pretext of being Advanced Fee Fraudsters, otherwise known as “Yahoo Boys.”

The protesters, mainly youths, yesterday extended their protests to other arteries and inner roads in the metropolis on the seventh day of the protest.

They refused to vacate Alausa, Lagos House, Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lekki Toll Gate, Ikorodu Road, Alimosho, FESTAC Town, Ogba, and Egbeda, among other areas.

At 9am, the protesters converged on Government House, Alausa, Ikeja in what seemed like a carnival.

From Alausa, they proceeded to Allen Avenue Junction, Ikeja, blocking the major roads before stopping at Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

They insisted they would not call off the protests unless the Federal Government acceded to their demands.

Speaking with Vanguard, some of the protesters said the ongoing protests were being supported by some spirited Nigerian youths who were tired of bad leadership, stressing that the protests should not be linked to individuals, human rights groups or bodies.

Commenting on the recent proscription of SARS by the Inspector-General of Police, one of the protesters, Sanyaolu Juwon, said the IGP’s pronouncement does not hold water as this is the fourth time Nigerians would witness the proscription of SARS without subsequent follow-up.

The protesters, who called for the  immediate resignation of the Inspector General of Police, said four Nigerians were shot by men of the Nigeria Police Force, despite the IGP’s directives to his officers.

He said:   “Four Nigerian youths were shut during the protests across the country. Also, our colleagues are facing trials in Ogun- and Oyo states, with little or no concern by the IGP.

“If the brutality and killings of innocent Nigerians continue under  the IGP, we are not ready to leave the streets.”

Speaking further, he said President Buhari should issue an executive order to ban and stop the activities of SARS across the nation.

“Our demands are: ‘no Police officer should carry a pump action gun on the streets of Nigeria. In civilized countries, policemen carry pocket guns but policemen  in Nigeria carry ammunition and this is dangerous in a democratic setting.

“The IGP should tender his resignation letter, justice for all victims of Police brutality and President Buhari should issue an executive order on the ban of SARS.”

Lekki-Epe road shut down

The protesters also shut down the Lekki-Epe expressway tollgate at about 9:00am, causing serious traffic gridlock that grounded vehicular movements, even as they marched from the tollgate to Ikoyi and back to the tollgate.

Consequently, motorists and commuters were stranded for hours, just as it happened the previous day.

Sanwo-Olu, who told  protesters at Alausa yesterday that he had to suspend his trip to Abuja as a result of the continued protest, said the state government has earmarked N200 million as compensation for families of victims of  SARS’ killings.

He also said the state government would set up a panel of inquiry, comprising youth leaders appointed by #EndSARS protesters, members of the public, government officials and security agencies, to look into the allegations of human rights abuses against SARS operatives in the state.

The objective of the panel, the governor said, is to bring indicted police officers to book and get justice for victims killed and maimed by SARS operatives.

Besides, Sanwo-Olu also set up a Trust Fund to compensate the families of the victims of police brutality in the state. According to the governor, management and disbursement of the funds will be completely supervised by Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, appointed by members of the public.

Sanwo-Olu further promised to convey the request of the protesters to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

Arrested persons released

To douse the current tension in the state, the state police command has released all those arrested  during the #EndSARS protests, in compliance with Governor Sanwo-Olu’s directive.

Those  released include Nkemakolam Okpara Felicia, female. 27; Nduka Treasure Chiamaka, female,21;  Adefila Olanrewaju;  Adeola Adebayo,; Ayodeji Ayeni; and Adebola Ojabodu.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: CSO writes US Govt to place visa ban on Oyo Police boss

Sanwo-Olu reiterated the need for youths to reciprocate the Lagos State Government’s gesture by shunning further protests and allowing the government to take steps to resolve the situation that sparked the protests.

At press time, the metropolis was still practically shut down, as traffic gridlock caused by the protests remained.

Protesters defy Wike, storm Govt House

In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, aggrieved youths yesterday took to the streets to protest police brutality in defiance of a directive by Governor Nyesom Wike.

Wike had on Monday, placed a ban on protests against the special anti-robbery squad, SARS.

The governor had said there was no need for further protests since the unit had been scrapped by the IGP.

He, therefore, directed law enforcement agencies to ensure that the ban on protests was enforced and that violators should be arrested.

But hundreds of protesters in the early hours of yesterday, converged on Port Harcourt, bearing different placards while chanting anti-SARS songs.

The protesters, who insisted that the governor had no right to ban peaceful protests, dared the governor to arrest them, as they continued their protest through major roads in the city.

However, speaking yesterday, Wike said he was not moved to encourage the raging wave of EndSARS protest across the country because nobody listened or supported Rivers State when he raised his voice against perceived atrocities of the police unit in the state.

Wike, after Monday evening’s declaration banning any form of anti-SARS protest on Rivers soil, reversed self yesterday to address teeming defiant protesters, led by Rivers-born entertainment stars and social activists who marched to the gates of  Government House, Port Harcourt.

Wike addresses protesters

Addressing the huge crowd of protesters, Wike said: “All of you here supported us to be here. I took oath to protect lives and property. Every Rivers man or woman’s blood matters to me. What we find in this country is that nobody wants to say the truth.

“As one of the states in this country, when we in Rivers raise alarm in this country, nobody wants to listen. But when it happens in other states, you want me to listen, I won’t do that. No governor in this country has challenged SARS as Rivers State Government did.

“When there was so much kidnapping in this state, I raised alarm to Federal Government, they said it was politics. I then prayed to God that the kidnapping, armed robbery, killings take over the entire country. Has it not taken over the entire country? Now it’s no longer politics.

“No state has suffered in the hands of SARS like Rivers. I am the only governor who has come out to openly fight against SARS.

“We have lost so many lives in this state in the hands of SARS. I cried and cried about SARS, not one state supported Rivers. Now, same SARS has gone to kill people in another state, it has now touched them.

‘’Now that they have killed your own people in another state, they have seen how bad SARS is, you now expect me to come to support you to seek protection, not so. Rivers blood is very important to me.

“Rivers will never play second fiddle to anyone else. Look at a lecturer in the Polytechnic Bori that SARS killed in cold blood. We cried and cried, everyone saw it. Who in this country ever said let us protest about it?

“Nobody joined us in protest, because Rivers blood is not important. SARS can never be my friend. I will never support SARS. No government in this country has challenged the police the way my government has.

“All the governors coming now to begin to join you in shouting we are ending SARS, why didn’t they say end SARS for so long? I will not be party to playing to the gallery. It is not only about ending SARS, every Nigerian should support total reform of the police.

“If you harp on SARS, which they have ended, are they not same police personnel? If they form another body, is it not same police? What is required is total reform of police. That I will always support. So all governors playing to the gallery joining #EndSARS, I won’t join them.

“I will do what is right at all times. Nigeria needs reform of the Nigeria Police. Now what we should do, as the President has said he would reform the police, let us hold the President by his words.”

SWAT replaces SARS

Also yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Muhammed, announced the setting up of a new Special Weapons and Tactics Team, SWAT, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

IGP Adamu Muhammed also ordered in a statement signed by the Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mbah, that all personnel of the defunct SARS should report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

He said the officers were expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.

According to him, medical examination will be carried out by the newly set-up  Police Counseling 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 he said was domiciled with the Force Medical Department and coordinated by the Force Medical Officer has its membership drawn from among psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, pastors, imams, public relations practitioners, civil society organisations and other human rights groups with relevant qualifications and expertise.

He stated that prospective members of the new team would 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.

“While 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,’’ the IGP said.

While reaffirming his irrevocable commitment towards the successful and holistic implementation of the police reforms, the IGP enjoined members of the public, particularly protesting citizens, to exercise restraint and allow measures being put in place to come to fruition.

Enugu gets first experience

In Enugu, protesters gathered early yesterday morning and marched through the major streets in the city. Police officers were on ground to provide protection for the protesters.

This is the first march in Enugu since the campaign against police brutality and operations of FSARS commenced in Nigeria.

The group of protesters also marched to Government House and state police command to register their complaints, with music artiste, Flavour and Phyno participating in the protest.

Ebonyi too…

In Ebonyi State, protesters marched from Presco junction to Udensi and rounded off at  Government House, Abakaliki.

They group was seen carrying placards with different inscriptions as they stressed that the call for the disbandment of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, was not enough.

They said they were also demanding an immediate release of all arrested protesters across the country, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation paid to all the affected families.

They also demanded the setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all police misconduct.

Bayelsa, Ondo states…

In Bayelsa State, hundreds of youths stormed the streets of Yenagoa, calling for reformation of the police force.

The youths, who wielded placards with different inscriptions, marched through the ever busy Chief Melford Okilo Road in the state capital drumming and singing, and stopped at Government House.

One of the protesters, who spoke on their behalf, Barr. Paraboma Nelson, said they were lending their voice to the general protests across the country.

He said: “We want to join our voice with other Nigerians to say that there should be a stop to police brutality of Nigerian youths, as its stands, the country is already hard enough, we cannot be subjected to further and inhuman degrading treatment as Nigerians.

“We want to say there should be an end to every forms of police brutality not just the SARS but to every form of police brutality.”

Addressing the protesters, DCP Aminu AlHassan, who represented the State Commissioner of Police, said the agitations and protests had already been heard and addressed by the IGP with a proclamation banning the SARS, stressing that SARS remained dissolved and liquidated.

A similar protest took place in Akure, the Ondo State capital, with hundreds of youth calling on the federal government to urgently reform the police force and bring to book SARS operatives  involved in extra-judicial killings across the country.

Let ex-SARS men join war against B-Haram here — Gov Zulum

Reacting to the development yesterday, Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, called on the Inspector General of Police  to redeploy disbanded members of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) to Borno State complement effort of the military to fight Boko Haram.

Zulum made the call in Maiduguri when he received Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Argebesola, who who was in the state on a visit.

Zulum said in Borno State, SARS has recorded remarkable achievements by using their energy   and aggression against Boko Haram.

“We are not in support of brutality by any security outfit, but to be sincere, here in Borno State, the efforts of SARS operatives in the counter-insurgency operations need not to be over-emphasized,” Zulum stated.

In his address, Aregbesola said, they were in the state at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek first hand information on the security challenges bedeviling Borno and some parts of the North East.

He said the delegation would meet with critical stakeholders, including the Shehu of Borno, Dr. Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, to fine-tune steps towards ending the insurgency.

Buhari orders IG to meet protesters’ demands

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to respond to the demands of protesters against the brutality by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

Recall that the President had on Monday ordered for immediate dissolution of the Police special unit as a result of lamentations of Nigerians over the brutality and inhuman treatment carried out by the SARS.

The five point demands by the #EndSARS are the immediate release of all arrested protesters, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families, setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days), in line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS before they can redeployed and increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.

In compliance with the President’s directive, the IGP convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in Abuja, Tuesday, disclosed that the meeting, organized by the Office of the IGP 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.

The statement  read: “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 Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, said: ‘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.”

The communiqué, signed by IGP Adamu and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, stated that the dissolution of SARS presented 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 said: “The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

“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, among others.

“Following 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 road map for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the reform of  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 as well as financing and partnerships.”

Those who attended the meeting were: Dr Kole Shettima- MacArthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA;    Segun Awosanya (Segalinks) – EndSars 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.

Vanguard

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