The Federal Government’s disbandment of Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) nationwide has elicited support of some popular Nigerians.
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, Sunday paid tribute to Nigerian youths for their resilience in exerting pressure on the police authorities to disband the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, in response to public agitations to end abuses by that of the Nigerian Police Force.
In a statement signed by his media assistant, Paul Ibe, made available to newsmen Sunday evening, the former Vice President said: “This was the right thing to do. A system that brutally eliminates our youths is not one to hold on to, and neither can we be proud of it. Now we can start on a clean sheet to envision an elite police unit and a comprehensive overhaul of the police and policing system that is people-focused”,
In his words, the will of the people is the bulwark of the democratic system and those in authority cannot ignore the will of the people without undermining democracy itself. The Wazirin Adamawa however noted that redeploying the bad eggs in SARS to other units may not augur well as they are capable of polluting those units.
According to him, the affected officers need to be properly screened and retrained to ensure that they do not come into their new assignments with the same mindset for which the disbanded unit was notorious for. Atiku Abubakar proposed an independent judicial inquiry into the activities of SARS that will ensure justice for victims of extrajudicial killings and punishment for officers involved in such dastardly acts.
He also suggested the opening of the dreaded SARS cells for scrutiny and stock taking of detainees. He further noted that the dissolution of SARS “offers us an opportunity to envision a police and policing system that ensures the primacy of the interest of Nigerians,” adding that the envisaged comprehensive overhaul of the police should take into consideration the needs of regional, state and council components.
The Wazirin Adamawa congratulated Nigerian youths on achieving their resolve and reminded them that if they stay united, they can achieve much more. He enjoined them to be steadfast in ensuring good governance in an egalitarian society.
He commended the courage and patriotism of Nigerian youths that took to the streets and the social media to call for an end to the brutal abuses by SARS operatives. He observed that “citizens who engaged in peaceful protests without molesting innocent people are heroes of our democracy.”
“I must commend the courage and tenacity of these youths for holding rogue elements in the police force accountable. Apathy in the face of abuses promotes impunity, and therefore these young men and women deserve our respect for championing the disbandment of SARS,” the former Vice President added.
He paid tribute to Jimoh Isiaq who was killed in Ogbomoso in the course of the #EndSARS protests and all those extra judicially killed over the years and expressed the hope that their sacrifices would not be in vain.
Also, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for yielding to the demand of Nigerians to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Gbajabiamila reacting through a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi also commended “Nigerians, particularly the millions of young people at home and abroad, who saw a wrong and sought to make it right, who saw injustice and acted to put an end to it”.
According to him, “the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), and the broader, ongoing reforms of the police that will follow, are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes”.
The Speaker called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar Adamu” to take practical steps to support and enforce this policy pronouncement”.
He said: “These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country.
“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must also act to identify and punish those operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality, and murder of Nigerian citizens.”
Gbajabiamila observed, “with displeasure, the police’s manhandling of some protesters, who came out in numbers to protest peacefully”. He assured “all Nigerians that the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) will not preclude the ongoing efforts by the House of Representatives to effect reforms of the police through legislation.
“There is still a pressing need to have an independent system for monitoring police actions and holding police officers to proper account for failures to follow the law and the police code. The House will continue its work to legislate lasting solutions to the problems of policing in Nigeria.”
He said “In support of these efforts, the House will this week meet with the national leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and select civil society organisations to begin joint efforts at developing a legislative proposal.
“Whatever legislation emerges from this collaboration will be presented to the House within the 30-day timeline announced by Speaker Gbajabiamila at the special session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday 7th October 2020.”
APC in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Yekini Nabena noted that “from the recent #BlackLivesMatter social movement to other global clamours for review of Police operations particularly in regard to citizens they are empowered to protect, the need for Police reforms in Nigeria is urgent and continuous”.
Part of the statement reads; “The All Progressives Congress (APC) welcomes the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and views the responsive decision as a major and concrete step towards President Muhammadu Buhari affirmed resolve to achieve better policing and necessary reforms.
“With benefit of experience and public outcry over the operations of the now disbanded SARS, the APC is confident that the new policing arrangement promised by the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed will balance the need to effectively combat armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country and ensure humane, professional and accountable police operations.
“We call on Nigerians to take advantage of the Citizens’ and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum which is being formed to regularly interface with Police leadership at all levels and advise on police activities as they affect the general public.”