A civil society group, Activists for Good Governance (AGG), has called for total police reform as the only solution that will assuage the anger of Nigerians against the atrocities perpetrated by the dreaded police outfit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), stating that announcing the disbandment of SARS was not satisfactory enough.
Addressing journalists on Thursday, 15 October, 2020 at a press conference held at the International Press Centre (IPC) in Ogba area of Lagos, the spokesman for the group, Gbenga Soloki said AGG was impressed with the resilience and unwavering determination of the youths to end police brutality as represented by the #EndSARS campaign, but appealed to them to be very cautious so as not play into the hands of the fifth columnists.
He also appealed to the protesting youths not to hinder innocent Nigerians from going about their normal businesses, reminding them that the protest was not against fellow Nigerians, but a struggle toend SARS.
“This is not a protest against fellow Nigerians. Preventing them from going to their market places and offices is to isolate people who are ordinarily sympathetic to our cause. Many Nigerians are just trying to pick up pieces of their lives together as the nation gradually reopens from COVID-19 induced lockdown. This is a struggle to end SARS and not a fight against our fellow country men and women. We must be discerning, strategic and focused,” he stated.
He said AGG was also demanding for an immediate establishment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to unravel how the operations of the disbanded SARS descended into raw criminality.
“The Judicial Commission of Inquiry should invite victims of SARS atrocities to appear and testify before the commission. The commission should have the power to subpoena banks and other financial institutions to provide the BVN and other accounts details of SARS officials who own PoS with which payments have been demanded and obtained at gun points from victims of indiscriminate arrests at any point in time,” he added.
The group, he said, believes that those found to have committed crimes must be prosecuted and punished accordingly.
“We must not allow those that committed atrocities to escape by being hastily redeployed to other units of the Police. Their trial must be made public so as to show the commitment of the Police High Command to sanitise the rank and file of the Police Force,” he noted.
He further said the AGG is also demanding that the money extorted from hapless Nigerians at gun points must be retrieved and refunded to their rightful owners in order to pacify the aggrieved.
The human rights defender said the AGG strongly believes that above steps would also be taken to pacify aggrieved Nigerians and restore confidence in the Police going forward.
He said AGG was calling for a temporal suspension of the street protest to allow the Federal Government and police authorities carry out the promised reform, but warned that failure to practically adhere to the yearnings of Nigerians would force it to mobilize for a coordinated action against the government.