Lagos, Oyo, Edo Protesters Reject IGP’s Reform, Demand F–SARS Scrapping
Some youths, under the aegis of the Gavel, a non-governmental organisation, stormed the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja on Wednesday to reject the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu’s reform of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) and demanded the scrapping of the unit.
The protesters chanted solidarity songs and 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?’
The protesters mounted a tent close to the command headquarters, where they vowed to continue to sleep until their demands were met.
One of the protesters, Olorunrinu Oduala, told PUNCH Metro 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 publicised 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 tomeet 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).”
Another protester, Temitope Majekodunmi, who said they were rejecting the move by the IG to reform SARS, said the protest commenced around 8am.
“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.”
One Elizabeth Ogunseye, who also spoke to PUNCH Metro 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.”
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 state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said 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.
Adejobi said, “A group called the Gavel, an NGO, protested at the police command headquarters, Ikeja, against SARS brutality, extortion and incivility. The group was addressed by the CP on the IG’s directives on the efforts of the IG and the Federal Government to sanitise the police institution in Nigeria.
“The CP also rolled out his actions on sanitising the police in Lagos. He assured them of his commitment to arresting and prosecuting any errant police officer, who violates the order of the IG in Lagos State.”
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?”
The Coordinator, Concerned Nigerian Youths, Nicholas Alabi, said, “We are calling for total end to SARS. The personnel cause more harm than good in Nigeria. They have embarrassed, harassed, kidnapped, extorted and killed thousands of Nigerian youths.”
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.
Receiving the protesters at the Oba’s palace, the Obahiagbon of Benin, D. A. Ehondor, promised to draw the attention of Oba Ewuare II to their requests.