Nigeria Diaspora Network has asked the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu to ensure that members of the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad accused of committing extrajudicial killings are fished out and prosecuted.
NDN International Coordinator, Mr Samuel Atolaiye spoke with THISDAY from the United States, saying nothing short of ensuring justice for the families of those who had lost loved ones to SARS would pacify the protesting youths.
He said: “While it is a welcome development that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, recently, dissolved the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the police authorities must be willing to holistically reform the operations of officers nationwide.
“The IGP’s total commitment to ensuring accountability for human rights violations is essential to restoring public confidence,” Atolaiye noted.
He appealed to the protesting youths not to allow the protest to result in unlawful actions, such as lootings or destruction of properties or create an ungovernable atmosphere, knowing fully well that some politicians or corrupt individuals might want to take advantage of such situations to make Nigeria ungovernable.
“This should never be allowed. Nigeria belongs to all of us and civil and reasonable actions should be pursued to resolve issues. I appeal to every Nigerian to listen to President Muhammadu Buhari who has promised to ensure that all those responsible for misconduct are brought to justice. This should at least be the beginning of the needed healing.”
Atolaiye argued that the creation of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit to replace SARS was premature. He urged the police authority to put measures in place that would restore people’s confidence in the police.
According to him, Nigerians want a police that can be trusted to perform their duties with respect and care for the people.
He said: “The banning of SARS is a step in the right direction. The next step should be comprehensive police reform. The committee for this reform should cut across every group including the youths, representatives of the government, private citizens who are well respected and have vast security experience to help with the reform.
“The reform will not only flush out bad eggs within the police but also ensure that those who have been members of SARS are not allowed into whatever new and refined unit that may eventually emerge in the future.”
Atolaiye also said the protest by the youths provided the nation with an opportunity to discuss the possibility of creating state police.
He said: “Some may argue that the system can be abused by state governors who wield enormous influence on their subjects and that it can be a tool to be used to harass political opponents, however, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
“It will help institute true federalism. During the first republic, the Native Authority police was very effective as a tool for combating crimes and maintaining orderliness then.
“Nigeria is too large and complex to only be policed centrally. The matter of state police should not be a contentious matter.
“If Nigeria is serious about overcoming current security challenges in the polity, the time to embrace the option of state ‘police is now.
“Another reason why the adoption of the state police system is good and realistic in Nigeria is because of the structure of the county’s legal system.
“Nigeria has federating states and these states have several points of divergence in their body of laws. What is considered a crime in one state may be different in another.”
He appealed to the youths “to trust the president to keep. The president has personally stepped in and has made a promise to hold officers accountable.
“People may say there are promises made before that were not kept. However, the government is now aware that people are watching more closely than before. With the all-inclusive stakeholders’ participation in reforming the police force in Nigeria, there is hope that SARS is gone forever.”