Brace Yourselves for Duty, IG Tells Policemen in Morale Boosting Effort

Mohammed Adamu

•Urges #EndSARS protest attacks should not discourage personnel
•LCC submits video footage of Lekki shootings
•Says CCTV stopped working at 8 pm
•Judicial panel rejects firm’s request to take back tollgate

By Davidson Iriekpen, Chiemelie Ezeobi and Segun James

In a morale-boosting effort yesterday, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, urged policemen to put the attacks arising from the #EndSARS protests behind them and brace themselves for the duty of securing the nation.

Adamu spoke in Lagos at a press briefing after meeting with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and told police personnel not to be discouraged by the unwholesome events, reminding them that their training had prepared them for such risks.

Following the killing of policemen and burning of several stations across the country by hoodlums that hijacked the protests of police brutality, the service’s personnel had become demoralised, staying off road duties despite orders from the IG and appeals from state governors to return to work.

The governors had announced a rash of incentives to compensate the families of the dead among them and promised to alleviate their sufferings through improved welfare packages and rebuilding of their razed stations.

But the police personnel had remained in their shells, still pained by the public uprising against them.

To lift their morale Adamu hit the road yesterday on a tour of police commands and other formations to assuage their feelings.

His first port of call was Lagos where he met the governor and commiserated with him over the destruction of government and private property by hoodlums in the state.

Addressing journalists at the Lagos House, Marina, after a parley with the governor, the police boss said policemen should see what happened to them as part of the risks in the job.

He admitted that the morale of men of Nigeria police is down but encouraged them not to be demoralised by the ugly incident.

“Lagos seems to be the epicentre where the incidents took place. The amount of destruction is more in Lagos than in any other state. I am here to commiserate with the governor of Lagos State and the people of the state on the amount of destruction to public property and private businesses.

“My visit is also to see the police stations that were destroyed and talk to officers and men of the Nigeria Police and encourage them not to be demoralised by the events that took place where they were attacked and police stations destroyed,” he said.

He added: “They are specially trained to take this kind of risks because, by the nature of police job, they are exposed to this type of risk. Now that this has happened, it shouldn’t discourage us from performing our constitutional duties. The morale of some of them has been dampened; so, the visit is to encourage them not to be discouraged but come out to protect lives and property.

“Apart from the police stations destroyed, private businesses were destroyed; even the palace of Oba of Lagos was destroyed. I would urge the citizens any time you want to undertake a peaceful protest, it’s important to set up a protocol in order not to allow miscreants to hijack the protest. The moment you allow that the intent of the protest will be defeated as in the case of this peaceful protest we witnessed.

“No nation will be able to bear the loss as we see in Lagos. Even it will take a long time.”

Adamu decried the massive devastation left in the wake of #EndSARS protest, noting that regrettably, it was engineered by fake news.

The IG was in Lagos with other senior officers to assess the impact of the damage done by hoodlums, who hijacked the #EndSARS protests.

The on-the-spot assessment kicked off at Makinde Police Division in Mafoluku, where the station and barracks were razed by hoodlums in the community.

Afterwards, the inspection train moved to Orile Police Station, then Ebute Ero Division before they assessed the damage at the Iga Idunganran, the official residence of the Oba of Lagos.

The IG also visited the private residence of Oba Rilwan Akiolu where he had a private session with him before veering off to the Ikoyi Police Hospital to see some of the policemen injured during the crisis.

Afterwards, at the state Police Command Headquarters, the IG recapped the incident that led to the protest, noting that it was engineered by fake news over the supposed death of a civilian in Delta State.

He said: “The #EndSARS protest was engineered by fake news that came out of Delta State where the local security outfit called Operation Delta Safe in routine stop-and-search accosted some individuals.

“Out of guilt, one of them decided to bolt out of the vehicle and an individual who wanted to spread mischief took a video of the incident and posted it on social media that the police had killed somebody.

“That led to protests in Delta State and in the course of our investigation, we found out that nobody was killed and SARS was not involved.

“But then with the use of social media, everything went so wide to the extent that Lagos picked it and it became a serious matter; it became the epicentre of the EndSARS group that started in 2017.

“They resuscitated it and came up with the campaign against #EndSARS. They came with five demands and after about four days of protest, the authorities acceded because it could lead to reform of the SARS itself.

“Our expectation was that after that, they would leave the streets but they did not. Every security agency knows that when people come out to protest without observing the protocol; you stay too long on the streets protesting, there is always a tendency for protests to become violent.”

Commending the policemen, he said: “When the police are viciously attacked by hoodlums in this manner that we have seen, the tendency is for the police to be provoked and they have the power and capacity to repel.

“But you showed maximum restraint by not using maximum force to repel the miscreants that went about destroying property and killing people here and there.

“That restraint and resilience you have shown has shown that no amount of provocation will lead you to give credence to police brutality.

“That has turned the table against the protesters and everyone knows that you were professional in handling the protests, which subsequently turned violent.”

He acknowledged that in every organisation there must be few that are bad.

Citing the president’s speech in support of the police, he said: “The vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihood of Nigerians and we will continue to support them to do their best.”

He also charged the policemen not to be disturbed or demoralised by the events that took place, adding that they were specially trained to take such kind of pains “because by the nature of policing, you are always exposed to danger.

“Now that this has happened, it shouldn’t discourage us from performing our constitutional duties. It is true that some of them, their morale has been dampened but the visit is to encourage them not to relent in performing their constitutional duties to protect lives and properties,” he said.

The destruction at the palace of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, extended to virtually all parts of the compound with his property looted while the cars and buildings were vandalised.

To further desecrate the palace, the hoodlums defecated in the throne room.

Speaking to the press during the IG’s visit, Prince Adeoye Olumegbon, younger brother to the Oba of Lagos, said the damages were much.

He disclosed that the original staff of the Oba wasn’t stolen.

Also speaking, Prince Aremo Akiolu, first son of the family, said the Oba was probably attacked because of his non-tolerance to hooliganism, adding that they are not going to change him.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, appealed to Adamu to further enhance better service delivery with the provision of anti-riot equipment and non-lethal weapons.

He urged the IG to consider and approve posthumous special promotions for the police personnel who lost their lives to the unrest in Lagos.

Odumosu further appealed to Adamu to make additional anti-riot equipment and four water cannons available to the command to make the management and control of riots easier and more professional.

Lekki Shootings: LCC Submits Video Footage to Judicial Panel

Meanwhile, the Lekki Concession Company, operators of the Lekki toll gate, has submitted video footage recorded by its surveillance camera on the night of October 20, 2020, when soldiers allegedly opened fire on #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate.

He revealed that the cameras at the plaza stopped working from 8p.m on the night of the shooting

Tendering the video footage to the panel, Managing Director of LCC, Mr. Abayomi Omomuwa, revealed that the cameras at the plaza stopped working from 8p.m on the night of the shooting

“I can confirm that inside here is the video footage that our surveillance camera was able to record for the 20th of October,” he said.

Explaining why the camera stopped working, Omomuwa said: “The major cause is because of the network. I can confirm categorically we never, ever, tampered with the surveillance camera. That is why we can get the footage.

“It remained there until about 8 pm when it was tampered with and we couldn’t get anything.”

Panel Rejects LCC’s Request to ‘Take Back’ Lekki Tollgate

Meanwhile, the panel has declined the request by the operators of the tollgate, LCC, to “take back possession” of the tollgate.

The Chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, in a short ruling yesterday, said the tollgate plaza would remain closed.

The judge said the panel might have a need to pay another visit to the tollgate plaza after watching the video footage from a surveillance camera submitted by the LCC.
Counsel for LCC, Mr. Rotimi Seriki, had urged the panel to allow the firm to take possession of the tollgate plaza to evaluate the level of damage for the purpose of insurance claims.

Seriki was reiterating an earlier request at the proceeding by Omomuwa, who said save for last Friday when he led the panel on a visit to the toll plaza, the place had been inaccessible to LCC management.

Omomuwa said from what he saw during last Friday visit, the level of damage was so much, it would take LCC not less than six months to fix the tollgate plaza.

“Any projection made here will just be guesswork. When we went there that day, I saw the level of damage. The whole tolling system is completely destroyed. It will not take anything less than six months to fix.

“I want to plead that they let us have access so that we can process insurance,” he said.

LCC lawyer, Seriki, said: “My humble request is that if the tribunal doesn’t have further need to visit the plaza, the LCC should be permitted to take back possession of the toll plaza for the purpose of evaluation of the damage and commence the process of carrying out necessary repairs.”

But ruling, Justice Okuwobi said the panel agreed that it was necessary for LCC to go and evaluate the level of damage “but we will not grant that access yet. The need may arise for the panel to revisit.”

The panel chairman encouraged LCC to make the application after the panel must have watched the video footage submitted by the firm.

Panels of Inquiry Legal, Says Falana

Against the backdrop of the arguments of some lawyers that the panels of inquiry set up by governors in their respective states to probe police brutality are illegal because they do not have such powers, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday said the state chief executives did not breach the law.

Reacting to the arguments that have ensued about the constitution of the panels of inquiry by the governors, Falana said the panels are legal.

In a statement he issued yesterday, the lawyer noted that the setting up of panels of inquiry is not an item on the exclusive or concurrent list as contained in the constitution.

While citing Supreme Court cases, the lawyer said the circumstances leading to the setting up of the panels are a residual matter within the exclusive legislative competence of state governments.

“Sequel to the aforementioned resolutions, state governors, have in the exercise of the powers vested in them by the Tribunal of Inquiry Laws, instituted Judicial Commissions of Inquiry to probe complaints of human rights abuse and make appropriate recommendations to the governments.

“The resolutions are perfectly in order as the Tribunal of Inquiry of each state qualifies as an existing law under section 315 of the 1999 Constitution. See Williams v Dawodu (1988) 4 NWLW (PT 87),” he said.

“It is submitted that by virtue of section 1 of the Tribunal of Inquiry law each governor is vested with the power to constitute a tribunal of inquiry to inquire into the conduct of officers or of any chief or of the department of the government and related issues.”