IGP replaces SARS with SWAT
As protests continue across the country, The InspectorGeneral of Police, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday replaced the scrapped Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSAR) with Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
The IGP, who announced the setting up of the new unit in a statement by the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, said members of the SWAT team would undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility. They are to begin training at different police tactical training institutions next week.
Mba said personnel from police commands in the South East and the South-South would train at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State; while personnel from commands in the north would be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State.
He said similarly, those from the South West will train at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State.
Mba also disclosed that personnel of the defunct SARS were to report at the Force Headquarters Abuja for “debriefing, psychological and medical examination”, adding that the officers are expected to undergo the process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.
While reaffirming his commitment to the successful and holistic implementation of the police reforms, the IG enjoined members of the public, particularly protesting citizens to “exercise restraint and allow measures being put in place to come to fruition and engender a police force that would meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.”
FG bows to pressure, okays 5-point demand of protesters
A presidential panel on police reforms has agreed to meet the five-point demand of the #EndSARS protesters, describing them “genuine concerns” that “will be addressed by the government”.
Among the demands, the forum backing police reform has called for the Inspector-General of Police to halt the use of force against protesters, unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens, open communication to establish trust and full implementation of reforms proposed by a presidential panel for the reform of SARS.
A presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement issued yesterday, said IG Adamu convened a meeting with stakeholders that agreed to meet the demands.
The meeting came after directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on the dissolution of the Special AntiRobbery Squad and immediate response to public outcry.
The meeting, organised by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multistakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the #ENDSARS movement and development partners.
Representatives of the Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting, which resolved that the five-point demand of the protesters and the #ENDSARS movement were genuine concerns that would be addressed.
‘New outfit shouldn’t be just a new name’
A retired police officer, Hamisu I. Musa, said yesterday that the replacement of FSARS with SWAT should not just be in the name and urged the presidency, the IG and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to truly reform the police.
“I was actually shocked by the speed at which a new name was announced,” he said. “Of course there is an urgency to put another structure on the ground so as not to leave a vacuum in providing cover for vulnerable Nigerians but some of us expected a more diligent work.
“That not-withstanding, I hope the presidency and the National Assembly would provide the financial backing for the police to be truly reformed. I also hope that the office of the IG and PSC would shelve the needless rivalry between them and work together towards achieving the goal of scrapping FSARS and establishing SWAT,” he said.
On his part, Barr. Kenneth James said erring police officers should be punished whenever they were found wanting.
Protests persist despite new measures
Our correspondents report that Nigerians protesting against police brutality, extortion and extrajudicial killings yesterday grounded commercial activities in Lagos, Rivers, Delta and other states in Nigeria.
The protest running for the sixth consecutive day led to traffic gridlock on the everbusy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in the commercial city of Lagos; the closure of government secretariat at the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo state and defilement of government directive in oil-rich Rivers State.
Sanwo-Olu joins protest, sets up N200m fund for victims’ compensation
The #EndSARS protesters yesterday presented a communiqué, which detailed their five-point demands and expectations from the government to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, as they insisted on justice for victims and police reform.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who joined the protesters that besieged the State House in Alausa, assured them that all protesters arrested by the police had been released unconditionally.
He demonstrated his support for the EndSARS campaigners as he carried a placard and marched on the road with the protesters.
Responding to their demands, the governor instructed the Ministry of Youth and Social Development to set up a panel of inquiry as soon as possible that will get justice for the victims while he requested citizens who have had a fatal encounter with SARS in Lagos to come forward and bring their cases to the panel.
He also assured of justice for all victims just as he set up a N200m Trust Fund for the compensation of all victims of SARS brutality.
Wike makes U-turn protesters defied order
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who had on Monday announced a ban on the protest in the state, addressed the protesters who defied his order and stormed the Government House in Port Harcourt.
Hundreds of protesters comprising members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and youths had insisted that they were not leaving the Government House until Wike addressed them.
The protesters defied the order and gathered at the Port Harcourt Pressure Park located at Port Harcourt/Aba road from where they took off.
One of the protesters, John Amagana said, “We have to defy government order to carry out the protest because Rivers State government has no right to stop the peaceful protest. I have been a victim of SARS brutality and likewise many others, so we demand that there should be an end to SARS in Nigeria”
The protesters who were armed with placards that bore several anti-SARS inscriptions also marched to the State House of Assembly where a letter demanding a total ban on SARS was presented to the leadership of the Assembly.
Police force had a hectic time controlling the protesters.
Protesters reject governor’s N2m ‘dash’ in Delta
Hundreds of #ENDSARS protesters yesterday defied heavy downpour in Asaba and brought movement to a standstill right in front of Government House for over six hours.
The protesters made up of youths mainly in their twenties and thirties, besieged the Government House, Asaba and compelled an unprecedented gridlock along the Summit road/ Illah double lane road.
In spite of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s appeal and financial entreaties with N2m cash for the youths to disengage the protest, the protesters stuck it out in the rain, chanting various protest songs.
Addressing the protesters, Okowa said ongoing nationwide protests for an end to police brutality in the country was a reflection of leadership and family failures over the years.
Disquiet in Kaduna, as police disperse protesters in Adamawa
There was also a protest in Kaduna yesterday as hundreds of people carried placards with different inscriptions chanting anti- SARS slogans.
Some of the placards read, “This is not political, we are fed up with SARS”, “Nigerians are not armed robbers, we say no to SARS”, “SARS is a disgrace to our country”.
One of the leaders of the protesting youths, who refused to disclose his name said, “We have no specific leader, we are for Nigerians, we don’t need journalists now. When we need journalists, we will let you know”.
Meanwhile, the police in Adamawa State yesterday arrested some of the youths protesting police brutality in the country.
Daily Trust learnt that the protesters were assembling at the Police Roundabout along Yola Road in the afternoon when a team of mobile policemen surrounded them and arrested some of the protesters.
One of the protesters who escaped arrest said the youths had planned to march peacefully from the Police Roundabout to the office of the Commissioner of Police to submit a written complaint against the police.
He lamented that the policemen descended on the youths, arresting some of them
Secretariat shut in Ibadan
The Oyo State, Secretariat, Agodi Ibadan was shut yesterday as the #EndSARS protesters stormed strategic areas in Ibadan, the state capital.
A group started the protest at the Iwo-road interchange and moved towards Agodi gate to the state secretariat while another group converged in front of the University of Ibadan and marched through Bodija International Market en route the secretariat.
The peaceful protest was led by some activists and youth leaders in the state. The Oyo State Deputy Governor, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan joined the protesters.
Olaniyan, who represented the Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who was away to visit the palace of the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, whose palace was attacked by protesters and the family of one of the victims, Jimoh Isiaq, urged the aggrieved youths to be peaceful in their protest.
Also, economic activities were disrupted in Osogbo, Osun State capital as youths protesting against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad blocked major roads and prevented vehicular movement.
The protesters set up canopies on the popular Olaiya junction and organised a dancing competition, turning the protest to a carnival-like party on the main road.
Commercial motorcycle operators also joined the protest and blocked the road with their motorcycles.
Some residents of Osogbo lamented that the protesters subjected them to hardship and disrupted their businesses.
Protesters generate N25m in five days over
It was discovered yesterday that #ENDSARS campaigners have raised over twenty-five million naira to support the ongoing protest.
The funds were raised through donations made via Flutterwave, a payment processing platform based in Lekki, Lagos.
One of the administrators of the account, Feyikemi Abudu via her Twitter handle, @fkabudu, gave a breakdown of the money raised and its disbursement.
As of 12 pm, she said the group had raised N23,441,635.90, $16,816, £2,943.46 and 5,455 Canadian dollar. Other funds raised included 915 Ghanaian cedi, 540 Australian dollars, 5,026 South African Rand among others.
While most of the funds went to the provision of medical supplies for wounded protesters and foods, she said the group still have over N16m from the funds raised so far.