By Tolulope Ibukunoluwa
Politician and businessman, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has canvassed for an efficient police services run by well-trained men and women, motivated, and well paid, consistent with acceptable Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), towards accountability, and the protection of citizens Fundamental Human Rights.
Olawepo-Hashim, incidentally a notable civil rights leader, and a 1989 Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience stressed in a reaction to the ongoing ENDSARS protest that the action of heroic Nigerian youths is a noble one, deserving prompt attention.
But while the conduct of the protesters has been civil and peaceful, the politician regretted the widespread report of fatalities caused by police violent response to peaceful protests, aside the hauling of scores of peaceful protesters into police cells.
He stated: “I condemn the excessive use of force to handle what is otherwise a peaceful protest and commend the protesters for breaking a two-and-a-half-decade long silence in the face of myriad of injustice in the land. As one who has been a victim of such brutality in the hands of Nigerian security forces as students’ leaders in the 1980’s; I know what these current event means.”
The veteran advocate of civil justice acknowledged the response of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to end SARS and ensure the redeployment of men of that dreaded unit but insisted that something more comprehensive is urgently needed.
Olawepo-Hashim insisted that “nothing must be done to apply force in crushing the on-going nationwide peaceful protests. As a matter of fact, under our laws, it is the obligation of the Nigerian Police to offer protection for peaceful protesters, not persecute and kill them. I urge the police authority to ensure the immediate release of all detained protesters and to investigate and bring to book all those involved in the brutal murder of protesters”
Other than that, “there must be accountability for the murder of these young Nigerians, and no one should attempt to sweep the issue under the carpet as it is the usual practice. I offer my heart-felt sympathies to the families, colleagues and friends of the deceased protesters”
He called on the National Assembly not to be silent in the face of the on-going nationwide protest and indeed, all true leaders of the people cannot be dead quiet at this time.
Olawepo-Hashim added: “The snare is broken! The Lord Himself is taking a way ‘the hearts of stones and replacing them with the hearts of flesh that will be sensitive to humanism, social justice and equity. The youth of Nigeria are taking the lead as they have already done historically in returning the nation to her true identity – lovers of justice, that who we truly are!’”
He concluded that the important work that law enforcement officers undertake every day to keep citizens safe must be appreciated by all and should recommend all disciplined service men for respect and honour, but this essential and noble duty should not always be at the expense of professionalism. This occasion must never be another event of police versus the people but police working with the people for better policing.