Protesters besiege force headquarters, demand scrapping of SARS
CSOs, NANs, others seek an end to the brutality, want decentralisation of police force
Protesters against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), yesterday, besieged headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in Abuja, demanding the scrapping of the unit.
Leader of the #RevolutionNow campaign, Omoyele Sowore, joined the protesters, who disrupted vehicular movement along the Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja.
They cited instances of how members of SARS engaged in unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, unlawful detentions, and extortions, among other vices.
The campaigners, under the aegis of the End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (END-SARS), also carried placards with various inscriptions calling for an end to the brutality, extortions, extrajudicial killings, and other excesses of the officers.
They also poured red paint on the road to illustrate the killings and bloodshed by SARS operatives, as a petition signed by over 10,195 persons was submitted to National Assembly seeking total scrapping of SARS.
Also in Oyo State, a human rights activist, Comrade Andrew Emelieze and Coalition of #RevolutionNow led some youths and students to protest against the existence of SARS along many streets of Ibadan, the state capital.
A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) also protested against SARS operatives, demanding an end to extrajudicial killings in the country.
The demonstration, however, took a worrisome dimension when some hoodlums hijacked the peaceful protest and engaged police officers at the Ugbekun Police Division in Upper Sokponba area of Ikpoba-Okha Council Area of Edo State, leading to the shooting of one of the protesters.
Another group of protesters reportedly stormed the police headquarters in Benin City to register their displeasure over the activities of the SARS, moving around the city in droves with branded T-Shirts and face caps with End-SARS crests.
Convener of Talakawa Parliament, Kola Edokpayi, said the protest against SARS operatives, was to condemn alleged extortion, harassment, and intimidation of members of the public, particularly innocent Nigerian youths.
Addressing journalists at the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Osunbor Omokaro, said if SARS must exist in the country, its officers must operate within the ambits of the law.
MEANWHILE, Niger Delta activist for good governance, Prince Patrick Otekpo, has canvassed decentralisation of the NPF to ensure that it becomes more accountable to Nigerians.
He said the state-owned police force would not be so lawless as to kill young Nigerians at will without facing dire consequences.
Otekpo, who is the National President of Niger Delta Youth Awareness Initiatives (NDYAI) and Chief Executive Officer of the Peoples Advocate Foundation and Kick Above Poverty Organisation (KAPO), said a decentralised police force would not only be more effective but also more accountable to Nigerians at the grassroots.
He said a central police force with command structure from Abuja was an anomaly, saying the results of that arrangement could only be evident in the brutalisation and killing of Nigerians, especially the youth, whose millennial ideals run contrary to uneducated lower cadre police officers.
Otekpo, who is aspiring to the President-General of Ozoro Kingdom in Isoko North Council Area of Delta State, advised that only educated youth should be recruited into the force to end the menace that the police force had become.