In reaction to the ongoing nationwide agitation against Police and Sars brutality in Nigeria, a Youth led Organization in Africa, Global Sustainable Youth Forum has release a strong statement detailing their position on Police reform in Nigeria.
Read the statement below.
TOWARDS IMPROVED POLICE RELATIONS IN NIGERIA: STATEMENT OF THE GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE YOUTH FORUM ON THE ONGOING NATIONWIDE PROTEST AGAISNT POLICE BRUTALITY.
The Global Sustainable Youth Forum (GSYF) has followed with concern the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality in Nigeria by the youths who are calling out the notoriety of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police and demanding its outright disbandment by the federal authorities.
The GSYF notes that despite the announcement by the Inspector General of Police on Sunday, 11th October, 2020 that the controversial police arm had been dissolved, the protests have continued and have spread across major state capitals in Nigeria, notably, Ogun, Enugu, Jos, Ibadan and Abuja, FCT.
From the information, available to us, the protesters have been peaceful and organized in their agitations, yet we note with great concern that despite the peaceful nature of the protests, the police have resorted to the use of disproportionate force in quelling the protests in some states; a situation that has led to the loss of at least 10 lives since the protests commenced on the 6th of October, 2020 according to Amnesty International
The GSYF condemns in unmistakable terms the unlawful killing of these law abiding citizens, particularly at a time when Nigerians are calling out the historical excesses of the police. The right of citizens to protest is guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, 1986 to which Nigeria is a State-Party. We are of the view that Nigeria cannot afford to shirk its responsibilities and obligations under these instruments as a democratic state.
The GSYF has studied the Nigerian police crises and we are of the view that the problem is symptomatic of prolonged institutional decay which has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian police architecture and festered across its various units. Incidentally, the United Nations SDG16 borders on ‘Peace and Strong Institutions’, the lack of which has led to corruption in the police with various egregious manifestations, not least the documented brutality and professional misconduct of operatives of SARS and other units of the police.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing, and in line with its commitment to engendering Sustainable Cities and Communities throughout the world, and with a view to seeking a resolution to the ongoing restiveness in Nigeria, the GSYF wishes to state as follows:
- We condemn the killing of lawful and peaceful protesters on the ongoing nationwide protests and urge the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari to rein on on officers of the police and other law enforcement agencies who are involved in this criminality. Accordingly we call on the Inspector General of Police to order the release of all unlawfully arrested and detained protesters.
- We condemn the ban of all protests by authorities of the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday, 15th October, 2020 under the guise of breach of Covid-19 protocols. This has the tendency to pit law enforcement agencies against the protesters and escalate the tensions. On their part, we urge the protesters to continue to observe all Covid-19 protocols in their protests particularly wearing of face covers and use of hand sanitizers.
- We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for the intervention of his administration so far in meeting the demands of the protesters and negotiating a solution that works for all parties.
- We call on the protesters to continue to be peaceful, civil and law abiding in their agitations as they continue the search for a better policing atmosphere in Nigeria.
- We call on the police authorities to investigate all allegations of brutality against Nigerian citizens by the operatives of the police and to prosecute those who are indicted. This is important in repairing the battered relationship between many Nigerians and the police.
- We call on the Federal Government and governments at all levels to invest in the welfare, training and re-training of police men and women to prepare them for optimum performance. The current situation where majority of the rank and file serve under near dehumanizing condition is totally unacceptable and cannot guarantee the expectations of 21st century policing.
- We commend the establishment of the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team of the police— the successor body to the now disbanded SARS on the condition however, that its operatives must be drawn from members of the force who have passed the requisite medical and psychological tests, and not operatives of the dissolved SARS. This is instructive in order not to create the impression of old wine in new wine skin, as many Nigerians fear.
- We call on the National Assembly to deploy effective legislation in institutionalizing a holistic reform of the Nigerian Police Force through the enactment of legislation(s) that address the problem of police brutality.
- Finally we call on the protesters to be patriotic in their demands and realistic in their expectations of reforms in the police as the problems bedeviling the institution as it is today, requires root and branch intervention which will take some time to be addressed. They should therefore know the right time to drop the agitations and allow for implementation of their demands while continuing to be vigilant in monitoring the action plans.
On the whole, the GSYF notes that the protests while they may wear the face of grievances against the police, are also the collective expression of years of government neglect and leadership brigandage in Nigeria by successive Nigerian leaders which has resulted in ‘lack of decent work and economic growth. The latest data released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics show that at least 60 million Nigerians are currently unemployed, while the country remains the global capital of poverty according to the global poverty clock. Even as the protests continue, Nigerian universities remain under lock and key as a result of prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over unresolved labor disputes with Nigerian authorities. All of these are emblematic of a weak political economy that could spiral into a full blown revolution as the world witnessed recently in the Middle East.
Against the backdrop of the above, It is our expectations, that the current realities, will force a course correction on the political class in Nigeria and lead them to prioritize governance while eschewing all forms of political corruption so as to meet the minimum expectations of the citizens who have shown by these protests that they can take liberties.
Raymond Nkannebe; Esq
Global Sustainable Youth Forum2372