The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed ‘anger’ at the activities of police officers who harass, assault and sometimes kill innocent Nigerians.
Mr Osinbajo stated this Sunday when questioned by journalists in Abuja, according to his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement.
“I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see, happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force,” Mr Osinbajo was quoted as saying.
Mr Osinbajo’s reaction was announced hours after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, banned some police units from operating on the roads following a public outcry of their activities.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Nigerians lamented the activities of the police unit, FSARS, using the #EndSARS code on social media.
Many young Nigerians recounted their sad experiences in the hands of the police unit.
UNLAWFUL AND ILLEGAL
In his statement Sunday, Mr Osinbajo vowed that culpable police officers will be punished and prosecuted.
According to the vice president, such violations are “completely unacceptable” because the law enforcement officers are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians.
”The arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted.”
“Today, I had a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, we reviewed several of these issues. The President and I have had discussions on this, he is very concerned about it. He wants to see a reform.
“You are probably aware that the IGP has issued a statement looking at all these issues, in particular, the warning against the use of these tactical units such as SARS for purposes of doing anything other than anti-robbery.
“For example, and I think in his statement, he specifically said that you cannot have a situation where SARS says, they are investigating Cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or in their cars,” he said.
He blamed the harassment on ”a few bad eggs” in the police force who are causing all of the problems, adding that there is a need to take serious action.
“The IG’s statement today, is a good first step. He has said clearly that policemen must wear police uniforms. You cannot say that because you belong to a tactical unit, you can dress in your casual clothing and be armed, because people can’t even tell the difference between robbers and the police, if you are not properly dressed in police uniform. So, clearly, a reform is in the offing.
“So, I will like to encourage civil society activists, young men and women, who bring this regularly, by the way, to the attention of government and the police. And I think that activism is important because they have been able to bring a lot of these issues to the attention of the police and government, and that is an important part of the process of the reform.”
“I think that we all have to work together to ensure that the police and law enforcement agents, do what their duty is and their duty is to protect us, protect our society and livelihoods and homes,” he said.
TOO MANY CRIMES
The SARS unit has been accused of several human rights violations especially of young Nigerians who are seen carrying laptop computers.
The call for the abolition of the unit grew louder on Sunday with the police in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, pledging to cleanse its ranks of officials found culpable of improper acts.
The latest #EndSARS campaign is not the first. A previous one last year led to the formation of a presidential panel to review the activities of the police unit.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how President Buhari last year ordered the implementation of the report of the panel. However, nothing seems to have changed since then until the Sunday directive.