#EndSARS: Osinbajo apologises for acting slowly on police brutality

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As the #EndSARS movement enters its 10th day and continues to receive global attention, the vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has apologised to Nigerian youths saying the federal government had taken measures to revamp the police and end brutality by its personnel.

In a series of tweets on his verified twitter handle late night yesterday, Osinbajo admitted that “there are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police” and described the situation as “unacceptable.”

The vice president said the government “could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry,” adding that “we must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.”

He wrote: “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.

“I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough. These feelings of frustration are justified.

“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.

“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.

“Several meetings have been held with: the @SPLawan @femigbaja, the Chief of Staff to @MuhammaduBuhari, Chairman of the @PoliceServiceC2, the IG of @PoliceNG (IGP), the Executive Secretary of @NHRCNigeria , and governors.

“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.

“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.

“With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.

“I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.

“We have proposed that each state government set up a Victims’ Support Fund, which @NigeriaGov will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.

“We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.

“On Monday, Mr. President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms.

“We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust. Keep safe. God bless you. – YO,”

Meanwhile, five people lost their lives at different locations yesterday as the #EndSARS protest entered the ninth day.

The casualties were recorded in Edo, Lagos and Ondo states.

It was gathered that two persons died and many injured when armed hoodlums attacked the protesters at Ring Road, Benin City.

In Lagos, police command announced the death of two persons in a road accident that occurred during the #EndSARS protest in the state.

Spokesman for the command, Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said in a statement that one of the #EndSARS protesters, identified as Nike, had been arrested for driving recklessly and for allegedly killing two Nigerians at Ikola Road, Alagbado.

“Mrs. Nike Lawal, was the driver of Toyota 4Runner SUV with REG. NO. GGE 346 BK that ran into a tricycle and killed the duo of Ojo Azeez, m, 27 years and Yusuf Sodia, m, 26 years, both of Command Road, Alagbado, Lagos State.

“Ojo and Sodia both in the tricycle died on the spot. The suspect, who intentionally removed the number plates on her SUV, shortly after the accident, had joined the protest at AIT junction, Alagbado, and started driving recklessly before the fatal accident.

Adejobi also said the command had arrested and commenced orderly room trial of the four policemen who were caught assaulting a young lady protester in a viral video in Surulere on Monday.

He said the policemen are Inspectors Bagou Micheal, Ekpoudom Etop, Nnamdi Makita and Akinyemi Benson.

“The policemen, who are attached to the Divisional Police Headquarters, Surulere, Lagos State, are cooling off in the cell while the orderly room trial continues.

“CP Odumosu has also ordered the arrest of the policeman who slapped an aged mother in another viral video at Iyun Street, Surulere, on the same day,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday submitted the report of the Presidential Investigation Panel on SARS to the chairman of the police service commission, Mr. Musiliu Smith.

The report was earlier submitted to the President Buhari in June 2019, but no action was taken on it.

The submission of the report to the PSC 16 months after it was handed over to Buhari for implementation was contained in a statement released yesterday by the NHRC’s assistant director public affairs, Ms Fatimah Mohammed.

The NHRC stated that the executive secretary of commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, while submitting the presidential panel’s report to the PSC boss, “expressed confidence in the ability of the PSC to ensure an effective implementation of the report”.

He noted that the panel called for and received 113 complaints on alleged human rights violations from across the country and 22 memoranda on suggestions on how to reform and restructure SARS and the Nigeria Police Force in general.

According to the statement, “the panel recommended 37 police officers for dismissal and 24 were recommended for prosecution.”

Ojukwu was said to have submitted to Smith, “Volume 11 of the main report which contains the recommendations targeted at bringing the needed reforms in the police force.”

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