By Peter Uzoho
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has thrown its weight behind the ongoing nationwide protest by Nigerian youths, code-named #ENDSARS, to end acts of brutality, extra-judicial killings and human rights violations carried out by the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit in the Nigerian Police.
While calling for the erring officers of the squad to be brought to justice, OPC as well demanded that the federal government should pay compensation to the families of the victims of the squad’s illegality.
In a statement issued yesterday, which was signed by the Deputy President of OPC, Wasiu Afolabi, the Yoruba cultural group, however lamented that the Police under President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to shed the brutal character it exhibited under the repressive regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
It said it had compiled the “victims list” of OPC members killed and maimed by police and other security agents in the last 26 years.
According to the statement which was the outcome of its emergency meeting held same yesterday in Lagos, OPC declared that “Enough is enough to police brutality. We are joining our voices to those of the teeming number of Nigerians who can no longer stomach a situation where their protectors have turned into their predators.”
It said the era of police impunity and brutality must stop and that this would only happen when erring officers felt the full wrath of the law for their crimes.
“In the past 26 years, OPC members have been tragic victims in the frontline of police brutality.
“And our organisation has only shown excessive self-restraint in such provocative and tragic incidents because Dr. Fasehun was a peace-loving citizen and we wanted to avoid disturbing the public peace in a South-West zone whose interest we swore to protect,” Afolabi said.
OPC noted that bad cops had spoilt the good ones in the rank and file of the Force, saying time had come for the police to ensure that offenders amongst them did not go unpunished.
Expressing its support for the ongoing nationwide ENDSARS demonstrations, the socio-cultural organisation, however, enjoined participants to remain peaceful in exercising their Freedom of Expression.
“Unfortunately, instead of the police to see these citizens’ demonstrations as an opportunity to exhibit civility and repentance, the uniformed men have once again embarked on killing peaceful and unarmed demonstrators.
“We hope these unprovoked killings are not signs that the leopard will not change its spots as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police,” Afolabi also said.
The group revealed that it intended to compile a list of members slain by police, the Army and other security agencies since its inception in 1994, with a view to demanding due compensation to the group and affected families.
The group added: “OPC shall be sending its own victims list to the IGP (Inspector General of Police, Amnesty International and other human rights bodies, as well as the Yoruba South-west governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kwara and Kogi”.