*Say IG’s recent reforms ‘ineffectual’
By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Despite the recent reforms announced by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, some youths in Lagos, Wednesday, took to the streets of Lagos to register their grouse against incessant acts of brutality, extortion and even extra-judicial killings, perpetuated by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
According to the protesters, they still went ahead with the protest because despite the recent reforms touted by the IG, SARS operatives have in the past few days doubled their pernicious acts, thus calling the police hierarchy’s bluff.
Tagged “Three Days Protest Calling for the Outright Disbandment of SARS”, the protesters listed the Lagos State Police Command and the State House of Assembly as focal points.
With placards bearing inscriptions like “Am I the next to die”, “Stop Police Brutality”, “Why shoot bullets at us”, “I am not a criminal #EndSARS”, “Our lives matter”, “Stop criminalising innocent citizens”, “Stop extorting and killing us”, the protesters took to the streets of Lagos.
From Ikeja under the bridge, opposite Computer Village, they took their peaceful protests to the Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja, where they laid bare their grouse with the incessant harassment they were being subjected to daily by SARS operatives.
The protesters also got participants to sign a register outlining their pains in the hands of SARS, which they afterwards took to the command headquarters.
On getting to the command, their demands to meet the Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, proved abortive, yet the protesters didn’t give up, as they all sat on the ground of the road leading to the command headquarters.
Their resilience later paid off as the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, DCP Ali Muhammed, was directed to address them.
He appealed for peace just as he reiterated ongoing measures by the Police Force Headquarters and the Lagos Command to address their grievances.
In their demands as articulated by Citizens Gavel Foundation against Social Justice, they lamented that despite several reforms announced by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, cases of abuse of citizens by SARS had increased without any step taken by the police hierarchy to address the fundamental problem of impunity of the operatives.
They further stated that SARS operatives promote extortion for self-enrichment and lawlessness, of which their non-adherence to the prescription of the law poses greater consequences for citizens.
In their demands, the protesters first called for the total disbandment of SARS as a unit, just as they called for a list of all officers that had been found culpable in the past and transparent prosecution of such officers.
They also demanded for justice for all victims who
who had suffered injustice in the past and a public enquiry on the past activities of the unit.
Another demand was the compensation for all verifiable victims, both dead and alive.
Charging the police hierarchy to ensure all unjust harassment and extortion of youth by the police to stop, they also stressed that policemen on duty must have their name tags depicting their units as well.
They also tasked the police command to prohibit practice by gun-totting policemen who dress in civilian clothes in unmarked vehicles while on duty.
In the long term, they also suggested the police hierarchy apply digital medium for tracking such cases with the police.