Olawepo Advocates Police Reform, Justice for Victims of Police Excesses



Politician and businessman, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim 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

The series of protests across the country sparked off the enduring incidents of police excesses bear grim semblance to the unfortunate occurrences that established my place as a notable civil rights leader, and a 1989 Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience. There is no doubt that the ongoing ENDSARS protest and 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, there have been regrettable widespread report of fatalities caused by police violent response to the peaceful protests, aside the hauling of scores of peaceful protesters into police cells.

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.

Being a veteran advocate of civil justice, I acknowledge 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 insist that something more comprehensive is urgently needed.

In order to reach a point of agreement for all stakeholders, 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.

I therefore call 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.

It is now clear to everyone that 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.

In conclusion, 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.