SWAT replaces SARS as nationwide demonstrations continue
As the #EndSARS demonstrations continued across the country, the Federal Government, yesterday, announced establishment of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to take over activities of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who announced this in a statement also ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report to the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
The IGP said the medical and psychological examination was a prelude to further training and reorientation for the officers before their redeployment into mainstream policing duties.
He said the medical examination would be carried out by the newly established Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU) set up to engage in psychological management, re-orientation and training of police officers deployed for tactical operations and other duties.
The formation of the new unit was announced 48 hours after the IGP dissolved SARS following a nationwide outrage.
“Prospective members of this new team will also undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment. They are to commence training at the different Police tactical training institutions nationwide, next week. While personnel from the Police Commands in the South-East and the South-South will be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State, those from the Police Commands from the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively.”
Notwithstanding, street marches continued, yesterday, across the country.
In Asaba, Delta State, thousands of youths barricaded the entrance to the Delta State Government House.
They trooped to the streets to add their voices to the campaign against the now disbanded outfit.
At the Government House gate along Anwai road, Asaba, the protesters demanded an audience with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
At at the time of filing this report, the protesters were still at the Government House gate, amidst the downpour.
Security operatives maintained safe distance to avoid confrontation with the youths, who allegedly demanded to be mobilised before vacating the place.
Protesters defy Wike’s ban, ground Port Harcourt
Thousands of protesters also grounded social and commercial activities for several hours, as they caused gridlock on major roads in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The peaceful demonstration came into effect less than 24 hours the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, banned all forms of protest throughout the State.
Governor Wike had, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said government took the decision because the IGP had already scrapped SARS.
The governor also directed law enforcement agencies to ensure that the ban was enforced and violators brought to book.
But thousands of youths defied the ban. In their black attires, they chanted “End SARS brutality”, “iPhone no bi gun”, and “Send SARS to Sambisa” songs, with several of them carrying placards with different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Why do I get beaten for being masculine and perceived gay”, “My brother, Solomon Yellowe, was killed by SARS after an ATM withdrawal”, “End Police brutality” and “Reform NPF.”
Phyno, Flavour lead march in Enugu
In Enugu, notable entertainers including Phyno, Flavour, Zoro and KayCee led the protest which attracted over 5,000 who displayed placards and chanted solidarity songs.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Enugu, Mr Daniel Ndukwe, had in a statement on Monday night, warned youths in the state to desist from joining the scheduled protest as there were plans by hoodlums to hijack it to cause havoc in the state.
The protesters, who were mostly dressed in white shirts marched from Okpara Square to the Police headquarters where they were addressed by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Abdurahman.
Mr Chinedu Okoli popularly known as Flavour had earlier listed the demands of the youths to include an immediate release of all #EndSARS protesters, prosecution of guilty SARS operatives and psychological evaluation of former SARS operatives among others.
There was a mild drama at Enugu State Government House when the State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, attempted to address the protesters as the youths insisted on being addressed by the state Governor.
The deputy governor, who later managed to address the protesters hailed them for effecting the needed change in police operation through their justified protests.
#EndSARS protest rocks Umuahia
In Umuahia, Abia State, protesters marched through major streets before terminating at the Abia House of Assembly.
Addressing the protesters at Abia House of Assembly, Speaker Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji said he was optimistic President Buhari through the IGP was handling the issues in the over all interest of the citizens and the country.
Orji said with the steps taken so far, President Buhari and the IGP have proved that they are listening leaders and sensitive to the good yearnings of the citizens.
Anti-SARS protest grounds Kaduna
Protest also rocked part of Kaduna metropolis with the protesters shouting “We are fed up with SARS.”
The protesters, who trekked from the popular Station Round About under the watchful eyes of combined security forces made up of police, civil defence, mobile policemen among others stopped by Water Board area of Barnawa area.
They shared bottle water freely among themselves because of the scourging sun at the time of the protest, just as motorists plying the road had to make detour to escape holdup.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters read in parts, “ 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.”
Ohaneze Ndigbo youths laud IGP
Ohanaeze Youths, the umbrella association of all youths of Ohanaeze both at home and in diaspora has commended IGP Adamu for his decisive and prompt response in disbanding special anti robbery squad.
The group in a statement equally commended the IGP for not suppressing the genuine concern of Nigerians eve as the group called on the Nigerian government to embark on comprehensive reforms that would bring police operations in conformity with global practices.
The statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Obinna Adibe said: “Indeed, against the idea that Nigerian authorities do not pay heed to public demands, IGP Adamu has proved us wrong and this is indeed a development that would put him in the positive side of history.
“We indeed commend him and his management team that may have contributed towards this decision that if not taken and given the global attention that the campaign has taken, would have dented the image of Nigeria almost beyond repair.
“We can only imagine the pictures and images of police fighting protesters that would have been circulating the world now, but all that has been obviated by the proactive stance of the IGP.”
OPC demands compensation
The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), yesterday demanded compensation for family and relatives of its members who suffered police brutality since 1994.
“OPC shall be sending its own victims list to the IGP, Amnesty International and other Human Rights bodies, as well as the Yoruba South-West governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kwara and Kogi,” it said.
The group backed ongoing EndSARS campaign, even as it called for an end to all forms of police brutality.
Youth body calls for retraining of policemen in Aba
Similarly, youths took to the streets of Aba, commercial nerve centre of Abia State, chanting slogans and carrying banners and placards in support of the ban.
The youths who marched peacefully along major streets had placards written in bold letters statements such as “End SARS Now”, “We Say No To Police Brutality,” among others held up traffic as motorists queued behind and hailing as they progressed.
This is as leaders of youth associations in the South East zone called on the IGP to urgently embark on training and retraining of officers and men to bring them in line with realities of present day policing.
In a statement by the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSYL), the youth leaders said while it commended the IGP for disbanding the dreaded squad whose members deviated from their operational calling to commit heinous crimes against the citizens with many of their victims dead, the time had come to re-plan and redirect operatives on their responsibility to the people from whose tax money they were being paid and maintained.
Law students ask IGP to resign over ‘incompetence’
The Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) has asked the IGP to resign because he is allegedly paying lip service to the issue of brutality by the police.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Blessing Agbomhere, LAWSAN national president, said many lives have been lost owing to the activities of some “bad eggs” in the police.
“The crescendo to the EndSARS protest was the Arrest, Detention, Molestation, Intimidation, Humiliation, Dehumanization and Rape of TREASURE NDUKA, a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus who was arrested at Ojuelegba Lagos, along with very many other Nigerians across the Nation. Although most of those arrested have been released, many lives have been lost,” Agbomhere said.
CSOs, labour, students hold pro-FSARS rally in Borno, Kano
Scores of persons from civil society groups, labour unions, students and artisans in Borno also demonstrated against the dissolution of FSARS by police authority.
The demonstrators, who walked through major highway in Maiduguri, Borno State, to the Government House to deliver a letter of their demands for the re-introduction of another FSARS were seen with placards bearing: “Return SARS, We want FSARS, We need SARS, Reform FSARS” among others.
Workers from organised labour unions, lawyers, market traders, students,women society groups, youth organisations and artisans were among the demonstrators.
Also in Kano, President, Coalition of Civil Society Forum, Ibrahim Waiya, faulted the disbandment of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, insisting that the Squad was friendly and professional in their dealings with communities in the North.
Waiya maintained that the incidents of the past few days were indeed unfortunate, but stressed that civil society groups in the state and in the North did not exactly share the same position as that of their counterparts in the South.