Following the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, some Nigerians have gone ahead to urge the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to activate total reforms of the law enforcement agency.
Before its disbandment on Sunday, SARS operatives became utterly lawless, killing and maiming Nigerians – young and old – without cause.
Using the hashtag #EndSARS, aggrieved citizens especially the youth poured out onto the streets in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Onitsha and several other cities across the country to demand an end to police brutality and justice for innocent persons killed by the ruthless police unit – SARS.
A statement by Frank Mba, Nigeria Police Force spokesperson, said that men of the disbanded unit were to be redeployed to a newly established unit known as Special Weapons and Tactics team after undergoing training.
According to the police authorities, this was to fill the gaps left behind by the disbandment of SARS.
But making their call for reforms louder, citizens have urged Adamu to ensure that officers fingered in the killing of innocent people were brought to book.
Speaking on the issue, Jude Igila, an insurance executive, expressed happiness over assurances by the police that alleged cases of human rights violations would be investigated in partnership with civil society organisations.
He said, “The IGP should also investigate other special units within the police aside SARS. These guys wear tattoos, ear rings, dreadlocks and look frightening. They do and undo. Those ones should also be cautioned.”
He said there was the need for the Nigerian Government to put in place procedures for holistic and comprehensive reforms in the security agency.
According to Igila, more interventions were needed to fully redirect the minds of police officers and relieve them of their well established colonial mindset.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Babajide Tanimowo, who also sued for total reforms of the law enforcement agency, recalled how one of his clients was embarrassed while being arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, in July 2020 by some policemen and a civilian accomplice popularly known as Wyclef.
According to the lawyer, the police informant wrongfully tagged his client in a video that went viral on the social media as a kidnapper and armed robber without any proof.
The police informant went ahead to sexually harass a young lady met at the apartment of the lawyer's client, attracting rage among Nigerians, who saw the video on the social media.
The Inspector-General of Police ordered an immediate investigation into that incident, leading to the arrest and subsequent arraignment of Wyclef at the Yaba Magistrate’s Court in Lagos.
Speaking further, Tanimowo stated that police officers/informants do not have the right to declare anyone guilty of an offence without a court pronouncement.
“This is equally enshrined in Section 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended and other fundamental rights which every accused person is entitled to. This right should not be the subject of ridicule or abuse by our security agencies and people who assist police in the discharge of their lawful duties,” he said.
Already, citizens across the country have rejected the establishment of SWAT by the IGP, insisting that it was only a change of nomenclature and not the complete eradication of the notorious police unit they have asked for.
Young people with huge banners and placards are currently still demonstrating across major cities in Nigeria, vowing not to stop until their demands were met.