Anti-SARS protesters on Sunday stormed the Nigeria House in New York demanding transparency in the dissolving of the police unit back home. They stated that operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad who have been found wanting should be sacked and not redeployed.
Papi Ojo, the artiste, model and choreographer who stole the show in the recent Beyonce’s music video, ‘Already’ was among the protesters.
The protest commenced shortly after Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police, announced the dissolution of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad. He also announced plans for a new arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps following the disbandment. The IGP said that the intervention will include the constitution of an investigative team to probe the alleged cases of rights violations, among others.
But the protesters were not satisfied with the arrangement as they bore placards with different inscriptions including, ‘We no want audio ban’. They argued that there had been previous commitments to change the behavior of SARS operatives but was of no effect.
Miss Omobolanle Adams, who was among the protesters said: ‘We are not buying that because they told us in 2017 that SARS had been banned from a lot of things, but they continued.’
‘We don’t want back-door politics, we don’t want back-door negotiations. We want President Muhammadu Buhari to speak directly to us. We want justice for people that were murdered, raped, and assaulted.
‘We want the SARS operatives responsible brought to book and at the end of the day, we don’t want them redeployed to other units. We want them gone.’
President Muhammadu Buhari took to his tweet on Friday to assure Nigerians of his determination to end police brutality and bring ‘erring personnel to justice.’ He said his administration’s ‘determination to reform the police should never be in doubt’, and implored the protesters to be calm.
He further declared that the bad reputation of SARS were on some bad apples, noting that most police officers were committed to protecting Nigerians.
Peter Johnson, another leader of the protest reiterated that there was no transparency in the reported dissolution of the outfit.
‘They gave us a very generic message. I, personally, feel like we need to see actual results. We need to see a plan of where the operatives are going, because people are still going to die,’ he said.
Addressing other protesters, ‘Papi’ Ojo said he relocated to the US at the age of 11, and was afraid to visit home because he had lost two uncles to SARS.
He stated that the unity and courage shown by Nigerians in the protest had given him strength to return and make a change.
‘As I speak, I am still afraid, but I can’t keep living in fear anymore because I have relations back home calling me to help. So, I am begging everyone here that is afraid like me to stand up and help in whatever way we can to effect the desired change back home,’ he said.
Some of the protesters took turns to tell their personal experiences or those of their family members in the hands of SARS.
However, being Sunday, the consulate was closed and no official was around to address the protesters.
Photo Credits: Punch and Todayng