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.
Zamfara to Restore Telecoms Services November 29
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Zamfara State Government has announced the suspension of the ban on telecommunications services in the state from Monday, November 29, 2021.
The announcement was made by the state’s governor, Mr Bello Matawalle, on Saturday at an event in Gusau, the state capital, where he stated that the resumption of telecoms services would begin tomorrow.
The federal government and the Zamfara State government had in September shut down network services “to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenges in the state.”
Now, Mr Matawalle explained that the decision to suspend the measure was informed by the encouraging report of peace attained in the nooks and crannies of the state.
“I want to announce today (Saturday) that we have taken a decision to lift the ban on telecommunications in the state,” the governor was quoted as saying in a statement by Mr Zailani Bappa, his Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media, and Communications.
“God’s Willing, as from next Monday we shall have that effected,” he said.
This follows its neighbouring Northwestern state, Kaduna, announcing the restoration of telecommunications services more than a month after it was shut down on the orders of the state security council.
Governor Matawalle, speaking at the convention of the state chapter of the All Progress Congress (APC) held at the trade fair complex in Gusau, believes bandits have taken the desired toll meant by the measure.
He thanked the people of the state for their patience and perseverance throughout the trying period and assured them that his administration would continue to take any measure necessary to preserve peace and protect their lives and property.
At the conclusion of the convention, the governor called on APC members in the state to extend their support to the new executive committee members in the state.
The convention was chaired by the Planning Committee Chairman from the National Headquarters of the APC, Ibrahim Masari, who announced a consensus of the party in all the 36 elective positions.
Mr Sahabi Yau, who represents Zamfara South senatorial district in the National Assembly, moved the motion for consensus, and it was seconded by a frontline member of the party in the state, Sani Jaji.
Mr Tukur Dan Fulani Gusau was returned as the newly elected chairman of the APC in Zamfara while Mr Ibrahim Dangaladima emerged as the new secretary of the party in the state.
The new EXCO members emerged after the Caretaker Committee of the party under Senator Hassan Nasiha was dissolved via a motion moved by a former governor of the state, Mamuda Shinkafi.
#EndSARS: SERAP Seeks Court’s Help to Arrest Security Operatives
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the arrest of security operatives involved in the shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate and police brutality cases.
SERAP, in a statement on Sunday signed by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, said the lawsuit was filed in collaboration with 116 concerned Nigerians, noting that young Nigerians had converged at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020, demanding good governance in the country and an end to police brutality before they were reportedly shot at by security officials.
A year after, a leaked report by the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality set up by the Lagos State government to probe the incident had indicted the security personnel for shooting “unarmed helpless and defenceless protesters, without provocation or justification.”
The group wants the court to “direct and compel President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to ensure the arrest of soldiers and police officers indicted by the Lagos #EndSARS panel report for the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll-gate, and police brutality cases.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, including adequate compensation.”
“It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for Nigerians’ rights, the rule of law, and public confidence in government institutions, as well as reduce the growing culture of impunity of perpetrators,” the statement read.
“The safety of protesters in Nigeria remains as precarious as ever, and impunity for crimes against them is growing. Impunity emboldens perpetrators. A failure to bring to justice those indicted for the shooting of peaceful protesters is, in itself, a violation of the rights to life and human dignity.
“The flagrant lack of accountability for past violations of the rights of protesters has given rise to a growing sense of powerlessness, and resentment not only among victims and their families but among the general public,” it stated..
According to the group, the failure to promptly arrest, and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters, and to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families amounts to a travesty of justice, as justice delayed is justice denied.
Joined in the suit as Respondent is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami.
While seeking an order to compel Mr Buhari to ensure that those still being detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against them are dropped, SERAP also wants the President to ensure full and effective respect for the human rights of everyone across the country, including the rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
“The Buhari administration has the constitutional responsibility to allow victims of human rights violations to find out the truth in regard to acts committed, to know who the perpetrators of such acts are, and to obtain justice and adequate compensation.
“The right to life is an inherent, core, and non-derogable human right, regardless of the circumstances, and even in times of armed conflict or states of emergency. Summary, extrajudicial, or arbitrary executions are clearly prohibited under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and international law.
“The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary, and Summary Executions affirm that ‘extra-legal, arbitrary, and summary executions’ cannot be carried out under any circumstances.
“According to the principles, ‘governments shall prohibit orders from superior officers or public authorities authorizing or inciting other persons to carry out any such extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions. All persons shall have the right and the duty to defy such orders.
“International law requires that the use of lethal force, such as firearms, is an ‘extreme measure’ that should only be considered when strictly necessary in order to protect life or prevent serious injury from an imminent threat.
“Articles 2(1) and 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party require State Parties to ‘undertake to respect and ensure’ and provide effective remedies for violations of the rights in the Covenant.
“The remedies must be accessible and effective remedies and take into account the special vulnerability of certain categories of person.
“The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a set of principles relating to states’ obligations to the victims of serious violations of international human rights law that makes clear that states are obligated to investigate violations of international human rights law thoroughly and impartially, and where appropriate, take action against those allegedly responsible.
“States also have the duty to investigate and, if there is sufficient evidence, the duty to submit to prosecution the person allegedly responsible for violations.
“President Buhari has a constitutional duty, being the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, to ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims, and that there is no impunity for allegations of human rights violations,” the statement disclosed.
The suit followed the submission of the Lagos #EndSARS panel report on the Lekki shooting incident and police brutality cases to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The leaked report is said to have indicted some soldiers and police officers for “the shooting of protesters, leading to grievous injuries and deaths.
The panel reportedly found that “the shooting of protesters at the Lekki toll-gate on October 20, 2020, was unwarranted, excessive, provocative and unjustifiable in the circumstances of the state of the protests, which was peaceful and orderly.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Oyo Begs 1,115 C of O Applicants to Come for Collection
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Those who applied for certificates of occupancy (C of O) in Oyo State have been urged to come forward for collection at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
This appeal was made by the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Olayiwola Olusegun Emmanuel, on Friday.
The Commissioner disclosed that since he assumed office about a month ago, he has signed not less than 1,606 C of Os but only 491 have been collected.
He, therefore, appealed the 1,115 outstanding C of O applicants to come forward to pick them up as they have been approved by Governor Seyi Makinde and duly signed.
“The Governor Seyi Makinde led administration has been working hard to make sure he fulfils his promises to the good people of Oyo State.
“This is why measures are being put in place to make sure that everyone collects their title documents with ease and within a stipulated period,” the Commissioner stated.
Mr Emmanuel admitted that though the cabinet reshuffle that took place in the third quarter of 2021 caused a slight delay in the issuance of the certificates, all processed and duly signed certificates are ready for collection by the applicants.
“We, therefore, enjoin the applicants to visit our office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and collect their Certificates of Occupancy.
“We also appeal to members of the public to respond timely to our officials when their attention is needed to avoid further delay in processing. We hereby apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused our applicants,” he added.
“All complaints should be made at our Customer Care office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Agodi, Ibadan or call Customer Care on 0700 696 52637. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,” he concluded.
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