By Elizabeth Chukwuma
The anti-SARS, protest across the country is taking a turn for the worse as police arrest and allegedly killing unarmed protesters. Take for instance, in the Surulere area of Lagos state, one protester was said to have been killed on Monday, October 12, 2020. Two ladies, were said to have been arrested a and baten to stupoour . The killing of the alleged protester is coming on the heels thatBabajide Samwo-Olu, the state governor, who was in Akure, the Ondo state Capital , in his capacity as the Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, National Campaign Council for the south west state governorship Election on Saturday, October 10, 2020, had returned to the state with a bombshell.
Sanwo-0lu, had given kudos to the Nigerian Youths over their demonstration against, SARS, which had facilitated the scrapping of the police sub-unit by Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP. but the Lagos state governor may have entered into the black book of the protesting Youths in Lagos when he tried to calm the protesters at urulere. Ther was spontaneous shout of : where is Buharri. Thee governor may have sensed that there is danger that he was force to leave the scene.
Many believe that the IGP had created the room for the nation-wide demonstration against the police sub-unit by banning their personnel and other tactical squads of the Force from routine Patrols and other Conventional duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks traffic checks among others.. The tactical squads that were said to have been affected alongside SARS by the ban included the Special Tactical squad, STS, Intelligence Response Team, IRT, Anti-Cultism squad and other tactical squads operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels.
The IGP, may have dampened the hopes of Nigerians of scrapping the SARS, which had been condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians including Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019, general elections, Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and also a one –time Senate President and Omo-Agege, a Lawyer, and Deputy Snate President in the 9th Senate.
He had have fueled the crisis when he said that RARS ‘’remain a critical component of the Force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country’’. The Statement may have triggered the call for the scrapping of the 9 year-old SARS , which had given the Force a bad image.
In scrapping the police tactical units, particular SARS, Adamu, the IGP. had acknowledged’’reports of extortion, and brutality against the squad’’. He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he announced plans of investigating the SARS personnel butthat was how far he could go.
But barely 24 hours of scrapping the notorious SARS and promise to investigate the personnel, Nigerians are not yet done with their demand for a Complete reform of the Force.
Although, the IGP, had bowed to pressure to scrap SARS, particular, but, Nigerians, appear not satisfied with the action. They want President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an Executive Order disbanding the Force special squad, to confirm that the IGP, was right. The aggrieved Nigerians had every reason to doubt the IGP, Statement that SARS had been scrapped at the Federal, Zonal and 36 states of the Federation.
The argument of Critics is that this is not the first time the police Authorities had told Nigerians that the SARS, had been disbanded and only for it to return in a more deadly form. But Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor would want Nigerians to believe that ‘’this is the first time, that the police , under the close watch of Adamu, is dissolving the team’’, pleading with the aggrieved Youths’’ to sheath there sword’’.
Given the direction the protest is taking and the recent Advice by Enock Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, to the Katsina state born President to restructure Nigeria to avoid disintegration may have informed why he had promised ‘’to carry out ‘’extensive reform of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF. He noted that scrapping of SARS, by the IGP is the first step to the planned extensive police reforms by his Administration.
The President was said to have opened up at the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme, P-YES at the VILLA on Monday, October 12, 2020. He may have been touched by the SARS personnel brutality in the country that he had described as genuine , ‘’the concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force , extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the NPF, particular, SARS.
He has assured Nigerians that as part of the extensive reforms of the Force in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of people, the government has no option but ‘’to order the scrapping of SARS.
He has made it clear to those that cares to lisen that ‘’all those who responsible for the conduct or wrongful acts would be brought to justice’’.There are indications that the government may likely set up an Independent body for the Investigation and prosecution of all alleged reports of police misconduct .
Recall that Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives , who is not happy at the turn of events in the country, had called on Adamu, the IGP, ‘’to ensure that the Personnel of SARS , who were involved in the Human Rights violations were brought to justice’’.
Gbajabiamila, who could not his feelings on Sunday, October, 11, 2020, had said that the police Authorities ‘’must act to identify and punish those Operatives of the SARS, that are involved in the severe cases of Human Rights abuse , brutality, and murder of innocent Nigerians, who mostly Youths’’.
The House Speaker believes that if this could be done,’’ it will quell the ongoing protests across the country’’. The He was said to have also asked the IGP ‘’to produce a Compressive record of disciplinary or judicial action that had been taken against the personnel of SARS who had been accused of abuse of power in the last five years.
Perhaps, to assure Nigerians that the Lawmakers are solidly behind their action, the House Speaker was said to have equally asked the IGP, who is bearing the heat of Nigerians protest, ‘’to produce an immediate action plan for identifying and Compensating the victims of the SARS, brutality and abuse. Many believe that this may be a difficult assignment for Adamu, because SARS had passed through seven IGPs in the last nine years.
It was said to have been popularised by Ringim, who had formed it to curb the increasing cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the country, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, had inherited the squad from Ringim, who in turn passed it on to Suleiman Abb. Abba had handed the squad ver to Solomon.E. Arase, and who in turn handed over to Ibrahim Idris., who also handed the squad over the infamous unit to Adamu.
Many believe that if the past IGPs, from Ringim to Idris, had taken the bold initiative to address the excesses of the SARS, personnel the situation may not have degenerated to the level of Nigerians calling for the reform of the NPF, through protest to register their anger against SARS, particular.