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FG bows to #ENDSARS protesters’ demands

As the federal government scrambled for ways to end the ongoing protests, a Presidential panel on Tuesday approved the demands of #SARSMUSEND protesters, including halting the use of force against protesters and the unconditional release of arrested citizens.

The face-saving five-point demands of the protesters were okayed at a meeting convened by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the National Human Rights Commission, with stakeholders.

As part of the moves to calm the nerves of the protesters, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had earlier said that the House would ensure that it appropriates funds for the compensation of the victims of the #EndSARS protests.

Gbajabiamila said the action would be in line with the House resolve to ensure that the lives of those reportedly killed during the protests in parts of the country did not go in vain.

To get them compensated, the Speaker said, the House would obtain the list of all the victims and use the 2021 budget process to get them compensated through their families.

In another meeting when he received a delegation led by popular Nigerian singer, David Adeleke (Davido), who came on a courtesy visit to convey to the Parliament deep grief of the Nigerian people over police brutality, the Speaker reiterated the resolve of the House of Representatives to ensure that key reforms are institutionalised within the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). 

The Speaker said the House identified with the need to reform the Police and had taken steps to address the situation, such as the recent Police Reform Act. 

“The amended Police Reform Act contains most, if not all, of the grievances and demand Nigerians want to see, including a functioning police complaint unit that should be a liaison between the citizenry and the police, as Nigerians can no longer live in fear of those who are supposed to protect them,” he said.

The multi-stakeholders’ meeting at the Police Headquarters was attended by leaders and representatives of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners, Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission.

They 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 organisation.

“The Forum further notes 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.

“The Forum affirms 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.

“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 stated that sub-Committees will be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations.

Those who attended the meeting are: Dr Kole Shettima- MAC Arthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA;  Segun Awosanya(segalinks) – End Sars Movement;  Yemi Adamolekun- Enough is Enough; Clément Nwankwo- PLAC; Rafsanjani- CISLAC; Kemi Okonyedo-  PWAN; YZ – CITAD; Folarin Falana Falz; Prof Deji Adekunle –NIALS;  Chris Ngwodo, SSA to President Research & Policy;  Dr Fatima Waziri – Rule of Law Adviser OVP and Abdulrahman Yakubu – NHRC Secretariat.

Others are: Hilary Ogbonna- NHRC secretariat; Halilu Adamu – NHRC Secretariat; Ben Aguh – NHRC secretariat; Dr Uju Agomuoh – PRAWA and Onyinye Ndubuisi – UNDP.

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