By Chiemelie Ezeobi
Some youths yesterday took to the streets of Lagos, Oyo and Edo States to insist on the scrapping of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protesters, who rejected the reforms announced by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, lamented the the incessant acts of brutality, extortion and even extra-judicial killing, perpetuated by the police unit.
In Ibadan, Oyo State, the protests were organised by youths under the aegis of the Concerned Nigerian Youths.
The angry youths also took the streets in Benin, Edo State capital, where they marched around the King’s Square, Sapele Road and visited the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II to register their grievances.
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,” and “Stop extorting and killing us,” the protesters took to the streets of Lagos.
From Ikeja Under Bridge opposite Computer Village, they took their peaceful protests to the Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja, where they highlighted the incessant and unfair harassment they are 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, but the protesters did not give up.
Rather than give up, they all sat on the ground of the inroad leading into 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 stop the anomaly.
In their demands as articulated by Citizens Gavel Foundation against Social Justice, they lamented that despite several reforms announced by the IG, cases of abuse of citizens by SARS have increased without any steps 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 have been found culpable in the past and transparent prosecution of such officers.
They also demanded for justice for all victims who
who have suffered injustice in the past and a public enquiry on the activities of the unit in the past.
Another demand was the compensation of all verifiable victims, both dead and alive.
Charging the police hierarchy to stop all unjust harassment and extortion of youths by the police, they also stressed that policemen on duty must have their name tags depicting their units as well.
They also tasked the police command to ensure they outlaw the norm of armed policemen dressing in civil dresses 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.