FG Succumbs, Accepts Five Demands of #EndSARS Protesters

#EndSARS Protesters

By Adedapo Adesanya

After widespread protests and demands calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the reformation of the Nigeria Police Force, a presidential panel set up by the federal government for the purpose, has accepted the five-point demands of the #EndSARS protesters.

This was disclosed by Mr Femi Adesina, spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement released on Tuesday in Abuja.

Following the massive protests, which garnered attention from around the country and the world, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, had on Sunday announced the disbandment of the SARS unit but protests continued as the order was not backed by an action.

Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari also issued a directive, calling for a reform of the police force, but the agitators were not impressed and issued a five-point demand.

They asked the government to, apart from scrapping the notorious police unit, must immediately order the release all persons arrested during the protests by the police.

They also demanded an end to police brutality and called for justice for victims. They also said an independent body must be established to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconducts (within 10 days); do a psychological evaluation of all disbanded SARS officers before being redeployed, and should increase police salary so that they can be adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.

According to the statement issued after a meeting convened by the IGP with stakeholders, it was agreed that the demands of the protesters would be met.

The meeting, organised by the office of the IGP and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), had in attendance representatives of civil society organisations, activists from the entertainment industry and the #EndSARS movement, among others.

Also present at the meeting were officials of the ministry of police affairs and the police service commission.

“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; affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the #ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government,” the communique said.

According to Mr Adesina, the communiqué, which was signed by the IGP and Tony Ojukwu, NHRC executive secretary, noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the force as a “modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation”.

“The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on the 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, amongst others.

“Following the 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 roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the 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 and Financing and Partnerships.’’

It is, however, not clear if protests will be suspended yet.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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