As Nigerian youths continue the #EndSARS protest following the brutality meted on Nigerians by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS); a unit of the Nigerian Police Force that was recently disbanded, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has apologised to Nigerians while assuring them of the government’s commitment to meeting their demands.
Osinbajo, in a statement, said that judicial panels in various states of the federation will be instituted to ensure that justice is served on erring office, while noting that no former SARS officer will feature in any police tactical unit.
Nigerian youth and other concerned members of the public have, in the last one week, lent their voices in solidarity with victims and families that have lost loved ones to the heinous activities of SARS officers through the #EndSARS movement.
While they called for a total reform of the police force, the #EndSARS movement has gone on to demand good governance and ensure that Nigerians enjoy the dividends of democracy from the people they elected into public offices.
Osinbajo statement reads:
I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.
I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough.
These feelings of frustration are justified.
There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.
Several meetings have been held with: the @SPLawan, @femigbaja, the Chief of Staff to @MuhammaduBuhari, Chairman of the @PoliceServiceC2, the IG of @PoliceNG (IGP), the Executive Secretary of @NHRCNigeria, and governors.
We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.
The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.
With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.
I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.
We have proposed that each state government set up a Victims’ Support Fund, which @NigeriaGov will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.
We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
On Monday, Mr. President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms.
We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust.
Keep safe. God bless you.