National Economic Council probes police brutality
of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved FSARS and other police units.
The panels would include representatives of youths, students, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court judge.
The NEC said the idea of the committee in all states of the federation and the FCT is to ensure that police formation and other security agencies consistently protect the human rights of citizens.
The council also specifically agreed that state governors and the FCT minister should take charge of interface and contact with protesters in their respective domains.
The terms of reference for the Judicial
The panel is to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings; evaluate the evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
The NEC said the panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six months, unless it showed convincing reasons why the state governor should allow an extension.
The NEC also directed all state governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
Governors worry over FSARS ban
While the resolve by the National Economic Council (NEC) to approach the ongoing protests and other agitations by Nigerians surfaced last night, governors of the 36 states of the federation had earlier in the day expressed concern over the FSARS).
The governors expressed concern after receiving a briefing from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on protests against the disbanded FSARS, which they said technically started in 2017.
Separately, governors of the 19 northern states openly opposed the disbandment of FSARS, which they said had played a key role in sustaining peace in the region.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, announced their position while fielding questions from State House reporters after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Daily Trust reports that IGF Adamu had on Sunday scrapped FSARS and replaced it with the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
The IGP said members of the SWAT team would undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility, saying they would begin training at different police tactical training institutions next week.
However, the action did not assuage millions of protesters who have continued to flood the streets across Nigeria on the grounds that the SWAT would also be populated by operatives of the disbanded FSARS.
On Wednesday, the Force Headquarters said in a series of Tweets that no former operative of the disbanded FSARS will be part of the newly established SWAT.
Governors’ take on disbanded FSARS
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, in a communiqué issued on Wednesday but released yesterday at the end of their 19th teleconference meeting, acknowledged the need to address the excesses of FSARS.
Fayemi particularly noted the concerns of many Nigerians especially youths on the matter.
He, however, said that members of the forum had highlighted efforts of FSARS operatives in their states, saying they had assisted in containing the increasing spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, and other highend crimes particularly in the northern states.
Why northern govs have interest in FSARS
Governor Lalong had while speaking to journalists yesterday justified why they opposed the disbandment of FSARS.
He said rather than scrapping the outfit, what was needed is the reformation of the unit to enable it to discharge its functions optimally.
According to him, SARS was not made up of only bad elements saying it also had personnel who were doing their work diligently.
He cautioned that the “baby should not be thrown away with the bathwater as the police unit had been useful in the fight against insecurity in the north.”
We’ll consult, reply northern govs - South-south govs
Daily Trust reports that while the northern governors frowned at the scrapping of FSARS, and the Nigerian Governors Forum said what was needed was a reform, governors of the SouthSouth said they were studying the situation.
Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, the Chief Press Secretary of Delta State Governor and Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, said his principal will respond to the statement credited to the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong.
According to him, Okowa would consult with governors of the South-South before making a policy statement on the “vexed issue.”
FG warns protesters
The federal government yesterday warned the #EndSARS protesters to be mindful of the risk for COVID-19 infection due to the manner of their engagement that defies the virus protection guidelines. The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chike Ihekweazu gave the warning at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Thursday in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said, “The number of new cases we will have will be determined by our own behaviour and the circumstances that we find ourselves.
“You can see some of the demonstrations happening across the country. The virus doesn’t know whether you are young or old, policeman or a demonstrator; it uses the opportunity to jump from persons to persons,” he said.
Some observers said the FG and security agencies were only using the COVID-19 as an alibi to reprimand demonstrators considering the backlash it will face in the event they outrightly use force to stop them from taking to the streets.
The claim followed the decision of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), which banned street demonstrations by the #EndSARS protests.
A statement by the FCTA’s Security committee a meeting chaired by the FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello agreed to ban all protests in the capital city.
However, IGP Adamu yesterday warned all police officers across the country against the use of force on peaceful protesters.
In a statement signed by Force Public Relations Officers, DCP Frank Mba, the IGP stated that citizens have fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and movement, which must always be upheld and protected by the police.
He said that the IGP stressed that the force leadership had clearly heard the voice of the people and was “irrevocably committed to doing everything within its powers to address the observed ills, punish any offending officers and promote a people-friendly police force.”
Protesters defy ban, storm N/ Assembly
Despite the ban in the FCT, the #EndSARS protesters yesterday stormed the National Assembly.
The protesters who had been camping at the Berger Roundabout yesterday moved to the Three Arms Zone in Abuja and blocked the Shehu Shagari
Senate President Ahmad Lawan asked the #EndSARS protesters to halt demonstrations across the country.
He also urged the federal government to expedite action on the implementation of all the five demands of the demonstrators.
He stated this in his remarks after the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, briefed the plenary on the outcome of their meeting with #EndSARS protesters who blocked the National Assembly entrance.
Army tags protesters elements’ #ENDSARS ‘subversive
On its part, the Nigerian Army has vowed that it will defend Nigeria from any attempt to subvert the nation’s democracy.
In a statement signed by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, the Army warned all ‘subversive elements’ and trouble makers to desist from any act that will disrupt public peace and order.
“The NA hereby warns all subversive elements and trouble makers to desist from such acts as it remains highly committed to defending the country and her democracy at all cost,” he stated.
Speaking in the same direction, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations Major General, John Enenche, said that the ‘subversive elements’ were the thugs who came out to attack the protesters.
Northern youths attacked in Kano as protests rage in states
Armed thugs in Kano yesterday disrupted the procession organised by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) against insecurity in northern Nigeria.
The protest march, which was supposed to start at two main points to terminate at Kofar Nassarawa was forced to end few yards away from its starting point at BUK Old site after the group of protesters were attacked by unknown hoodlums at Kofar Famfo.
No fewer than forty persons were said to have been injured in the attack.
Conveners of the protest told newsmen that the attackers disguised as supporters by distributing sachet water to those that gathered for the procession before they struck with dangerous weapons.
Justifying why they took to the streets, CNG’s Data Officer, Dr Mohammed Bello Nawaila said
“Safety and security of Nigerians is the number one responsibility of the president” adding, “he must do all that is required to guarantee the safety of Nigerians.”
According to him, “Our message to the president is that he should listen to us. We are humans and Nigerians; we have a right. If some people can march and say end SARS and SARS could be ended, why can’t he stop insecurity in northern Nigeria?” he asked.
The Gombe State chapter CNG also yesterday staged a peaceful protest. In Jigawa, a coalition of human and civil rights activists held a peaceful protest calling for the reactivation of the FSARS by the police high command, describing the scrapping of the outfit as ill-informed.
In Kaduna, the NCG members stormed the state House of Assembly protesting over the rising insecurity in the region.
The youths called on authorities to end Boko Haram, kidnapping and banditry across the region.
The protesters displayed placards that read ‘Arewa is bleeding’, ‘End insecurity now,’ ‘End banditry now,’ and ‘End kidnapping now’.
In Jos, the Plateau State capital, youths in their numbers blocked the popular Yakubu Gowon Way in protest.
Daily Trust reports the police fired shots in the air and teargas in order to disperse the protesters.
SERAP sues FG
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday filed a lawsuit against President Buhari and IGP Adamu “over ongoing intimidation, harassment and attacks on peaceful protesters campaigning against police brutality and corruption across the country.”
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Attorney - General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu.
SERAP said the right to protest constitutes the very foundation of a system of participatory governance based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and pluralism. Failure to respect and ensure the right to peaceful protest is typically a marker of repression.
It also asked the court to direct the federal government and Nigeria Police Force to immediately identify all victims of police brutality during the protests and adequately compensate each of the victims (and their families) by paying each the sum of N200 million.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Contributions by Muideen Olaniyi, Abbas Jimoh, Terkula Igidi, Abdullateef Salau, Maureen Onochie (Abuja), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Habibu Umar Aminu & Richard P. Ngbokai (Kano), Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe), Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse), Adelanwa Bamgboye (Lagos), Mohammed Yaba (Kaduna) & Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos)