Police yet to forgive youths for role during #EndSARS protest – NOPRIN boss

By Steve Oko

A lecturer with the University of Nigeria Nsuka, Dr. Jasper Uche, has advocated the de-proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as one of the urgent measures to restore peace in South East geopolitical zone.

The university don made the call while presenting paper at a Youth Summit held in Umuahia for South East zone organised by the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN Foundation, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sports.

He expressed deep worry that the South East economy might be crippled by the incessant sit-at-home protests and rising wave of insecurity in the zone, hence the need to de-proscribe the pro-Biafra group to possibly assuage the youths.

” I advise the federal government to de-proscribe IPOB. Their proscription is part of the things making the boys angry. They feel that due process was not followed in tagging them terrorists.

” But if you de-proscribe them and bring them closer to find solution to their grievances this whole thing will definitely be quailed.

” Government should adopt a carrot & stick approach to break their ranks. Using brute force against protesters in the East while holding discussions with armed bandits in the North is unfair.

” Police should not criminalise protests. They should not use Public Order Act to stop people from holding peaceful protest.

” I’m saying this with utmost sense of patriotism. We are in a serious mess here. The sit-at-home problem is affecting everybody.

” Even Governors and the upper class also sit at home now. Everybody is now living in fear. I beg the federal government to consider dialogue in the interest of all”.

Dr. Uche who spoke on” Devising Practical Solutions Towards Improved Youths- Police Relationship for Accountable Service delivery in Nigeria: South East Perspective”, regretted the lack of human face/ civility by some police personnel while handling youths in the zone.

According to him some police personnel see well-dressed people as part of their oppressors, hence their antagonistic and hostile attitude towards them particularly youths.

The former Council boss identified trust deficit, extortions, sympathy for killer herdsmen and release of some high profile crimials without prosecution, poor response to early warning, etc as some of the negative perceptions against the police in South East.

He also decried what he called “bottom-top returns” which he said promotes corruption in the police system.

” There are allegations the police use POS and even give change to motorists at some check points. It’s too undignifying!”

Dr. Uche said the image of the police had been battered over the years, and advised the police to restore public confidence and trust by building a new image.

” Police image can no longer be laundered. They should use role models to build a new image.”

In a remark, the National Chairman of NOPRIN, Mr. Saviour Akpan, regretted that the relationship between the police and youths in many commuunities are still very frosty.

He described the brutalization and branding of youths as internet fraudsters or ‘Yahoo boys’ at the least suspicions by the police.

Mr. Akpan said that the Police were yet to forgive the youths and civil society groups because of their involvement in the #EndSARS protest last year, regretting that the lessons of the up-rising are yet to be learnt.

The summit drew participants including civil society groups from states in the zone.

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