#EndSARS: People Power Forces Nigerian Government to Accept All Demands to Stop Police Brutality

In what appears to be the biggest social protest news event since “Occupy Nigeria” protests in January 2012 is currently ongoing in Nigeria, the most populous black nation of the world.

The campaign to put an end to the notorious unit of the Nigeria Police popularly known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad -#EndSARS, was not only effective, but has also forced the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to own up and accept the demands of the protesters twice in less than three days.

The first step taken to address the concerns of the protesters was the dissolution of the Police Unit, announced by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.

A presidential statement was released in the wake of the dissolution stating that “The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people”.

When the government realized that the disbandment failed to appease the protesting youth, who have intensified their protests across the country, the government, went a bit further to announce more drastic action on Tuesday afternoon, indicating Abuja was acceding to the five-point demand of the #EndSARS protesters.

 

L-R Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu during a crucial meeting on #EndSARS movement 

 

“Following directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and immediate response to yearnings of citizens, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens,” a Nigerian government statement read Tuesday, October 13 read.

The statement further noted that “The meeting, organized by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organizations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners.

“The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the government.”

A communiqué of Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) said:

“Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“The Forum was addressed by the Inspector-General of Police and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission.

“The Forum collectively: welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest; Further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the government.’’

According to the communiqué signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, Esq, the Forum noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organization.

 

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu(middle) in solidarity with the protesters in Lagos on Tuesday

 

Forum members further noted that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

Members also went on to affirm that “…reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others”.

Members re-iterated that “Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police: An order by the Inspector-General of Police to all State Commands to halt the use of force against protesters; Unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens; Open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.

“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police. The Forum agrees to the setting up of this Independent Panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week. An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within one week.

“The Forum recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment. The Forum resolves to set up the following Technical Sub-Committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability and Financing and Partnerships.’’

The communiqué concluded that sub-Committees will be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Editor in Chief of popular TheNEWS magazine and P.M. NEWS newspaper, who was a former Managing Director of the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had this to say after the government statement; “People power, Nigeria's determined youth wrest more concessions from FG, including psychiatric evaluation of SARS personnel before redeployment.