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#EndSARS Presidential Panel okays 5-point demand of protesters

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Image Credits: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP, Shoebox Photography/Twitter.

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The Federal Government has affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the #ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed soon.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

Aisha Yesufu, a female activist, standing defiant against aggressive police response against #EndSARS protests in Abuja on 10th October.

According to him, the affirmation of the five-point demands followed the directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad and immediate response to yearnings of citizens.

He said the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet the demands, which included halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.

“The meeting, organized by the Office of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the ENDSARS movement and development partners.

“The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government,’’ he said.

A communiqué of stakeholders’ meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) said:

“Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

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“The Forum was addressed by the Inspector General of Police and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission.

“The Forum collectively: welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest.

“It further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.’’

According to the communiqué signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, the forum noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms.

It stated that the reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.

“The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.

“Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police:

“An order by the Inspector General of Police to all State Commands to halt the use of force against protesters; Unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens.

“Open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.

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“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police.

“The Forum agrees to the setting up of this Independent Panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week.

“An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within one week.

It also stressed the need for the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.

“The Forum resolves to set up the following Technical Sub-Committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability and Financing and Partnerships.’’

The communiqué stated that sub-Committees would be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations.

Those who attended the meeting are: Dr Kole Shettima- MAC Arthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA;  Segun Awosanya(segalinks) – End Sars Movement and  Yemi Adamolekun- Enough is Enough.

Others are Clément Nwankwo- PLAC; Rafsanjani- CISLAC; Kemi Okonyedo-  PWAN; YZ – CITAD; Folarin Falana Falz; Prof Deji Adekunle –NIALS;  Chris Ngwodo, SSA to President Research & Policy;  Dr Fatima Waziri – Rule of Law Adviser OVP and Abdulrahman Yakubu – NHRC Secretariat.

Hilary Ogbonna- NHRC secretariat; Halilu Adamu – NHRC Secretariat; Ben Aguh – NHRC secretariat; Dr Uju Agomuoh – PRAWA and Onyinye Ndubuisi of the UNDP also attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu on Tuesday, ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

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This, he said, was in line with Section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020.

According to the IGP, the officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.

The medical examination is expected be carried out by a newly set-up Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU), which will engage in psychological management, re-orientation and training of officers of the Force deployed for tactical operations and other duties.

The Unit, which is domiciled with the Force Medical Department and coordinated by the Force Medical Officer, has its membership drawn from amongst psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, pastors and imams, Public Relations practitioners, Civil Society and other Human Rights groups with relevant qualifications and expertise.

Also, the IGP has set up a new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team that will fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS.

Prospective members of this new team will also undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.

They are to commence training at the different Police tactical training institutions nationwide, next week, while personnel from the Police Commands in the South-East and the South-South will be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State.

Those from the Police Commands from the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively.

While reaffirming his irrevocable commitment towards the successful and holistic implementation of the Police reforms, the IGP enjoined members of the public, particularly protesting citizens to exercise restraint and allow measures being put in place to come to fruition and engender a Police Force that would meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.

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