Soldiers confront protesters, NBA demands audit of SARS evil centres

• Protesters occupy Lagos, Abuja, Oyo streets, protests spread to Kaduna, Enugu, Rivers, others

• Presidential committee approves panel within one week to probe human rights abuses

• Adamu meets governors today as Senate proposes law to tackle extra-judicial killings

Our Correspondents

The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in its disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by throwing all detention centres of SARS open.

The NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata, who made the call at a press conference in Abuja, listed some of the SARS’ infamous detention centres in the country as Abuja “human abattoir” as well as the squad’s detention centres in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

He called for a comprehensive audit of all detention centres of the disbanded squad to take stock of detainees.

The NBA made the call on Tuesday as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said he had set up the Special Weapons and Tactics Team that would replace the disbanded SARS.

Recall that the IGP on Sunday disbanded SARS following protests by youths, who alleged high-handedness and extortion by the squad.

The NBA president, who warned security agents against attacking anti-SARS campaigners, said the association would provide legal support for protesters.

Akpata said the association had set up a platform, publicinterest@nigerianbar.org.ng, for submission of complaints by members of the public.

According to him, the FG should throw SARS’ detention centres open to prove that the squad has been truly disbanded.

He said mere pronouncements of the disbandment of SARS would not put an end to protests against police brutality.

“What is key now is sincerity,” Akpata said while answering a question on what the government needed to do to end the protests.

He added, “First and foremost, the issue to address is that the issue of detention centres of SARS around the country where people are detained for alleged offences. They should be addressed.

“As a mark of good faith, and good disclosure, it will be important for the police to throw open these centres just to convince us that not only has SARS been disbanded, but also that indeed its activities have been brought to an end.”

Akpata also said the public must see that culpable SARS operatives were either disciplined or prosecuted depending on the degrees of allegations established against them.

NBA lists Abuja human abattoir, Lagos, P’Harcourt, others as SARS’ infamous detention centres

He identified the most notorious SARS detention centres in the country to include “the infamous ‘human abattoir’ in Abuja”, the one in Awkuzu, Anambra State and the others in Lagos, and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The NBA president, who categorised the group’s demands into short, mid and long terms, called for “an immediate audit of the detainees” in the notorious centres “and other facilities”, as part of its mid-term demands.

He also demanded “an expedited audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country.”

As part of its short-term demands, Akpata said the right of the citizens to protest “is inalienable and fundamental right that is not only recognised by the Nigerian constitution, but has also been consistently upheld by Nigerian courts at all levels”.

Aside condemning any ban on protests, the NBA president called on “governments at all levels to protect the rights of all citizens participating in the peaceful protests across the country.”

SWAT replaces SARS

Also on Tuesday, the IGP, Adamu, explained why SWAT was set up to replace SARS.

A statement by the Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, in Abuja stated that the prospective members of the new team would undergo tactical training next week.

It said they would undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.

It disclosed that the personnel from police commands in the South-East and the South-South would be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State.

READ ALSO: Soldiers confront protesters as more states join #EndSARS campaign

Those from the police commands in 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 statement was titled, ‘IGP orders all defunct SARS personnel to report at the force headquarters for psychological and medical examination.’

It also disclosed that the IG had ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

The statement read, “The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, today, 13th October 2020, in accordance with section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020, ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.”

Commenting on the setting of SWAT, two leading anti-SARS protesters, Aisha Yesuf and Deji Adeyanju, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, called for a commission of inquiry into the extrajudicial killings, illegal detentions and other unlawful activities by the disbanded SARS.

IG meets govs today

On his part, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the IGP would meet with governors on Wednesday (today).

Sanwo-Olu stated this in an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday after meeting with the President, adding that he had earlier met with the IGP.

“Part of the takeaway for me is that all the governors are on the same page. We are having a governors forum meeting tomorrow. The IG will be briefing us at that meeting and further clear directives and decisions will be taken by all the governors,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said he had presented protesting youths’ letter to Buhari. As proofs of government’s commitment, Sanwo-Olu said all protesters arrested on Monday have been released.

On its part, the Presidency said the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad had approved the demands of #EndSARS protesters.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Presidential panel on police reforms swings into action, okays five-point demands of protesters.’

Adesina said following directives by the President on dissolution of SARS, the IGP convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet the demands.

According to the presidential spokesman, the meeting, organised by the Office of the IGP and the National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations, activists from the entertainment industry and the EndSARS movement and development partners.

He quoted a communiqué of the meeting signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, as, “Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad 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.

Presidential committee approves setting up of panel within one week to probe SARS’ human rights abuses

According to the presidential aide, the forum approved the proposal to set up an independent investigation panel to look into the violations of human rights by the SARS and other segments of the 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,” he added.

In the National Assembly, a bill seeking amendments to the NHRC Act passed first reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, titled, “National Human Right Commission Act CAP N46 LFN 2004(Amendment) Bill,2020”, was sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola.

The bill seeks to curb the rampant extra-judicial killings by amending the NHRC Act, CAP N46, Law of the Federation of Nigeria,2004.

Meanwhile, the Senate also observed a one-minute silence for Jimoh Isiaka and other youths who were killed during #EndSARS protests.

This was sequel to a motion by Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, who drew the attention of the Senate to the ongoing protests by the youth.

He particularly regretted the protest in Ogbomoso which degenerated into a confrontation between the security operatives and the youth. Isiaka was killed recently in Ogbomoso, Oyo State when protesters and the police clashed.

Lagos to set up panel of enquiry

In Lagos State, Governor Sanwo-Olu said he would set up a panel of enquiry that would comprise youth leaders appointed by #EndSARS protesters, members of the public, government officials and security agencies to look into allegations of human rights abuses levelled against SARS operatives in the state.

According to a statement titled, ‘Sanwo-Olu moves to get justice for victims of SARS brutality, sets up panel,” by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, the governor said the panel would bring indicted police officers to book and get justice for victims killed and maimed by operatives.

The governor disclosed this while addressing anti-SARS protesters at the State House, Ikeja.

In a related development, an artiste, David Adeleke, aka Davido, on Tuesday met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

According to a statement by the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled ‘Gbajabiamila assures of key reforms in Nigeria Police,’ Davido demanded the release of all detained protesters.

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Also, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has written the IGP, demanding the release #EndSARS protesters in different parts of the country.

In the letter, the minister described the disbanding of SARS as the right step following the nationwide outcry of high-handedness, human rights violation and harassment of the youth and other Nigerians by some of the officers of SARS.

The Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, at a press conference in Lokoja on Tuesday, urged protesting youths to trust Buhari, adding that the President would carry out police reforms he promised.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria demanded an administrative or judicial investigation into the activities of SARS with a view to bringing the culprits to book.

The organisation in a statement by its President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, commended Buhari and the IGP for being sensitive and responsive to the clarion call for the disbanding of SARS.

Makinde visits Ogbomoso, gives Soun N100m, victims N1m each

The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, visited the families of slain victims of #EndSARS protest in Ogbomoso on Tuesday.

The governor also inspected the palace of Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, following the attack on the palace during #EndSARS protest on Sunday.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

Makinde said the sustained protest in many parts of the country was a wake up call to leaders to address the problems facing the people especially the youths.

The governor approved an immediate release of N100m to the Soun of Ogbomoso for the renovation of the palace.

He also gave N1m each to the families of the deceased and made a commitment to the families to work with them to know the areas the government could be of help to them in order to cushion the effects of the losses of their loved ones.

By Olalekan Adetayo, Sunday Aborisade, Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba, Leke Baiyewu, Ade Adesomoju, Olufemi Olaniyi, Daniel Igoni and Gb

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