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#END SARS: Lagos, Oyo and Edo Youths Demands Scrapping of FSARS

Some Nigerian youths, under the aegis of The Gavel, a non-governmental organization, stormed the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja on Wednesday to reject the recent intervention of the Officer Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police on the issue of the alleged the alleged brutalization of youths by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad. The youths insisted on the scrapping of the police unit.

The protesters displayed placards with different inscriptions such as, ‘#END SARS NOW’, ‘I AM NOT A CRIMINAL #ENDSARS’, ‘Bullets At Us’, ‘#Say No To Police Brutality’, ‘Am I Next To Die?’ as they chanted solidarity songs. They mounted a tent close to the command headquarters, where they vowed to continue to sleep until their demands were met.

Oloruninu Oduala, one of the protesters said that the protest would hold for three days, adding that they had decided to sleep at the police command headquarters because their homes were no longer safe.

She said, ‘We want an end to SARS. The IG released a statement that was publicized on Twitter and we have been seeing statements like that in the last five years. So, we are saying no. This protest is a reaction to the cry of Nigerian youths. We set up a group and some people voluntarily joined and came out today without being paid.’

‘We are coming out because we are tired of being harassed by SARS men; we are speaking out to show our grievances to the government. We are protesting for three days and we are going to sleep over at the police command headquarters, because our homes are not safe anymore.’

‘The Commissioner of Police has addressed us, but he has yet to meet our demands and we are not leaving until our demands are met. We will be going to the Lagos State House of Assembly tomorrow (Thursday).’

Temitope Majekodunmi, another protester said they were rejecting the move by the IG to reform SARS: ‘Today’s protest is about the agitation of Nigerian youths, which is to end SARS; we don’t want reform, what we want is to end SARS. The protest started around 8am and our convergence point was under the Ikeja Bridge, then we moved around Awolowo Way, down to Medical Road and came through Ayinke House to the police command headquarters.’

Elizabeth Ogunseye, who also spoke said, ‘I have been harassed several times by SARS men; they always asked why my hair was tinted. Why am I driving a car at a young age? Who bought the car for me? My friends and brother have been harassed by SARS. I had to leave work to join the protest and I will be coming from work to join for the three days the protest will hold.’

The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, while addressing the protesters, assured them of the command’s commitment to arresting and prosecuting errant personnel, who violate the order of the IG.

A similar protest was staged in Ibadan, Oyo State, by youths under the aegis of the Concerned Nigerian Youths.

The Coordinator, Coalition for #RevolutionNow in the state, Solomon Emiola, said, ‘We are here protesting the brutality of Nigerian youth by the police, especially the SARS. The rate at which they harass the citizens is so high.’

‘We are calling on the President, the Senate President and the Speaker to scrap SARS. We say no to it. Anywhere they see you, they will harass you. Without asking questions, they will say you are under arrest. They have killed so many youths. If we fold our arms without telling them that enough is enough, it means the future of this nation is in jeopardy.’

‘We are not satisfied with the step taken by the Inspector-General of Police. In some states, while SARS was banned, the personnel were still operating. It means that they are above the law. Is SARS not under the IG?’

In Benin, Edo State, angry youths also took the streets to protest against alleged inhuman treatment by SARS men on Tuesday. The youth were seen marching around the King’s Square, Sapele Road and the palace of the Oba of Benin. They were received by Oba D.A Ehondor who promised to draw the attention of Oba Ewuare II to their requests.

It was learnt that a petition, which was addressed to the IG, was submitted at the command headquarters. The petition read in part, ‘A total disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the identification of cases of extrajudicial execution, torture and ill-treatment that have caused death or severe injuries to be subjected to independent, prompt, impartial and thorough investigation and officers reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility be brought to justice.’

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which was formed to combat robbery in Nigeria was founded in 1992 by Officer Simeon Danladi Midenda, the former police commissioner. SARS is one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department and was established to detain, investigate and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of crimes.

As the years went by, the squad grew in number and strength. There was an increase in the rate of cultism and internet fraudster in universities which led to the involvement of SARS operatives to curb the menace. They successfully arrested some students guilty of the crime. However, there were constant complaints of harassment by innocent youths who were arrested as a result of their looks, expensive cars and phones, piercing, tattoos, amongst others.

Solomon Arase, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) announced on the 7th of August 2015 that there would be a separation of the SARS unit, the operational unit and the investigation unit to decrease the constant cases of human right violations due to the several reports and complaints by citizens to the office of the IGP.

Commencing the formation of the Special Anti-Robbery squad, the operation was in a disguised manner as the operatives were not allowed to be on police uniform, publicly carry guns or have walkie-talkies. The vehicles given for their operation were unmarked with sometimes no license plates or private plate numbers during duty.

Civil Right Advocate, Segun Awosanya started an online advocacy to end SARS brutality in the country in December 2016. It commenced with a hashtag, #EndSARS which attracted public responses all over the country. The public disclosed their SARS experience with a lot of video upload. The campaign attracted attention from media.

Despite the public exposure of SARS brutality through the #EndSARS, the rate of harassment was still rampant. Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on August 2018 ordered with immediate effect the reformation of SARS and gave an order to Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, the Inspector General of Police (now former) to carry out thorough investigation concerning human rights violation.

In response to the order, the IGP announced that the unit would be renamed to Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), a new head of the unit would be appointed and also the provision of human rights desk officers to check reports.

However, citizens lamented that the reformation was not going to bring about a change as the problem was not the organization but the people that make up the organization.

Mohammed Adamu ordered the immediate decentralization of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on January 21, 2019. Also, he announced that the Divisional Inspector Generals  of Force Criminal Investigations Department and Commissioners of Police in each state would be held accountable for actions of the SARS.

The recent case of one of a SARS operative allegedly shooting a man to death in Ughelli, Delta State led to another widespread complaints and a call to the end of SARS. However, the Senate resolved to mandate the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate human right abuses by Nigerian security agencies and urged the various security agencies to establish hotlines to enable Nigerians to report abuses by their agents.

Other resolutions of the Senate on the motion include: urging the various security agencies to establish a Special Bureau Unit that monitors the contacts of officers, arresting and charging erring ones, mandating the Committee on Police Affairs and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate allegation on extrajudicial killings and make recommendations, mandating the Committee on Police Affairs to organize stakeholders meeting to investigate the implementation of the Police Trust Fund.

Nigerians are concerned as this might be a repetition of the former, where reformations were put in place but the abuse and killings still persisted. This has led to protests in three states as the people are no longer satisfied with such interventions.

Peace Omenka

#END SARS: LAGOS, OYO AND EDO YOUTHS DEMANDS SCRAPPING OF FSARS

Some Nigerian youths, under the aegis of The Gavel, a non-governmental organization, stormed the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja on Wednesday to reject the recent intervention of the Officer Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police on the issue of the alleged the alleged  brutalization of youths by the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad. The youths insisted on the scrapping of the police unit.

The protesters displayed placards with different inscriptions such as, ‘#END SARS NOW’, ‘I AM NOT A CRIMINAL #ENDSARS’, ‘Bullets At Us’, ‘#Say No To Police Brutality’, ‘Am I Next To Die?’ as they chanted solidarity songs. They mounted a tent close to the command headquarters, where they vowed to continue to sleep until their demands were met.

Oloruninu Oduala, one of the protesters said that the protest would hold for three days, adding that they had decided to sleep at the police command headquarters because their homes were no longer safe.

She said, ‘We want an end to SARS. The IG released a statement that was publicized on Twitter and we have been seeing statements like that in the last five years. So, we are saying no. This protest is a reaction to the cry of Nigerian youths. We set up a group and some people voluntarily joined and came out today without being paid.’

‘We are coming out because we are tired of being harassed by SARS men; we are speaking out to show our grievances to the government. We are protesting for three days and we are going to sleep over at the police command headquarters, because our homes are not safe anymore.’

‘The Commissioner of Police has addressed us, but he has yet to meet our demands and we are not leaving until our demands are met. We will be going to the Lagos State House of Assembly tomorrow (Thursday).’

Temitope Majekodunmi, another protester said they were rejecting the move by the IG to reform SARS: ‘Today’s protest is about the agitation of Nigerian youths, which is to end SARS; we don’t want reform, what we want is to end SARS. The protest started around 8am and our convergence point was under the Ikeja Bridge, then we moved around Awolowo Way, down to Medical Road and came through Ayinke House to the police command headquarters.’

Elizabeth Ogunseye, who also spoke said, ‘I have been harassed several times by SARS men; they always asked why my hair was tinted. Why am I driving a car at a young age? Who bought the car for me? My friends and brother have been harassed by SARS. I had to leave work to join the protest and I will be coming from work to join for the three days the protest will hold.’

The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, while addressing the protesters, assured them of the command’s commitment to arresting and prosecuting errant personnel, who violate the order of the IG.

A similar protest was staged in Ibadan, Oyo State, by youths under the aegis of the Concerned Nigerian Youths.

The Coordinator, Coalition for #RevolutionNow in the state, Solomon Emiola, said, ‘We are here protesting the brutality of Nigerian youth by the police, especially the SARS. The rate at which they harass the citizens is so high.’

‘We are calling on the President, the Senate President and the Speaker to scrap SARS. We say no to it. Anywhere they see you, they will harass you. Without asking questions, they will say you are under arrest. They have killed so many youths. If we fold our arms without telling them that enough is enough, it means the future of this nation is in jeopardy.’

‘We are not satisfied with the step taken by the Inspector-General of Police. In some states, while SARS was banned, the personnel were still operating. It means that they are above the law. Is SARS not under the IG?’

Read Also: EndSARS Promoters Must Face the Law- Says Presidency

In Benin, Edo State, angry youths also took the streets to protest against alleged inhuman treatment by SARS men on Tuesday. The youth were seen marching around the King’s Square, Sapele Road and the palace of the Oba of Benin. They were received by Oba D.A Ehondor who promised to draw the attention of Oba Ewuare II to their requests.

It was learnt that a petition, which was addressed to the IG, was submitted at the command headquarters. The petition read in part, ‘A total disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the identification of cases of extrajudicial execution, torture and ill-treatment that have caused death or severe injuries to be subjected to independent, prompt, impartial and thorough investigation and officers reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility be brought to justice.’

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which was formed to combat robbery in Nigeria was founded in 1992 by Officer Simeon Danladi Midenda, the former police commissioner. SARS is one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department and was established to detain, investigate and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of crimes.

As the years went by, the squad grew in number and strength. There was an increase in the rate of cultism and internet fraudster in universities which led to the involvement of SARS operatives to curb the menace. They successfully arrested some students guilty of the crime. However, there were constant complaints of harassment by innocent youths who were arrested as a result of their looks, expensive cars and phones, piercing, tattoos, amongst others.

Solomon Arase, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) announced on the 7th of August 2015 that there would be a separation of the SARS unit, the operational unit and the investigation unit to decrease the constant cases of human right violations due to the several reports and complaints by citizens to the office of the IGP.

Commencing the formation of the Special Anti-Robbery squad, the operation was in a disguised manner as the operatives were not allowed to be on police uniform, publicly carry guns or have walkie-talkies. The vehicles given for their operation were unmarked with sometimes no license plates or private plate numbers during duty.

Civil Right Advocate, Segun Awosanya started an online advocacy to end SARS brutality in the country in December 2016. It commenced with a hashtag, #EndSARS which attracted public responses all over the country. The public disclosed their SARS experience with a lot of video upload. The campaign attracted attention from media.

Despite the public exposure of SARS brutality through the #EndSARS, the rate of harassment was still rampant. Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on August 2018 ordered with immediate effect the reformation of SARS and gave an order to Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, the Inspector General of Police (now former) to carry out thorough investigation concerning human rights violation.

In response to the order, the IGP announced that the unit would be renamed to Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), a new head of the unit would be appointed and also the provision of human rights desk officers to check reports.

However, citizens lamented that the reformation was not going to bring about a change as the problem was not the organization but the people that make up the organization.

Mohammed Adamu ordered the immediate decentralization of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on January 21, 2019. Also, he announced that the Divisional Inspector Generals  of Force Criminal Investigations Department and Commissioners of Police in each state would be held accountable for actions of the SARS.

The recent case of one of a SARS operative allegedly shooting a man to death in Ughelli, Delta State led to another widespread complaints and a call to the end of SARS. However, the Senate resolved to mandate the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate human right abuses by Nigerian security agencies and urged the various security agencies to establish hotlines to enable Nigerians to report abuses by their agents.

Other resolutions of the Senate on the motion include: urging the various security agencies to establish a Special Bureau Unit that monitors the contacts of officers, arresting and charging erring ones, mandating the Committee on Police Affairs and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate allegation on extrajudicial killings and make recommendations, mandating the Committee on Police Affairs to organize stakeholders meeting to investigate the implementation of the Police Trust Fund.

Nigerians are concerned as this might be a repetition of the former, where reformations were put in place but the abuse and killings still persisted. This has led to protests in three states as the people are no longer satisfied with such interventions.

Peace Omenka

Photo Credit: NaijaNews

Categories: News, Uncategorized

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