Atiku Abubakar has commended Nigerians for rising in unison to condemn alleged atrocities by the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Mr. Abubakar, a former vice-president and 2019 presidential hopeful, said harassment of citizens by policemen has no place in a democratic society.
“The arbitrary harassment of young Nigerians by Police (who should be protecting them) has no place in a democratic society,” Mr. Abubakar said.
The politician said he understood the plights of citizens who have been victims of alleged SARS brutality, especially the youth who are more vulnerable to harassment because SARS personnel often see them as Internet fraudsters whenever they carry laptops in their bags on the road.
“The #EndSARS protest shows Nigerian youth are upset and the matter needs urgent attention,” he said. “Everyday, we encourage our young people to become entrepreneurs. Buying a laptop to earn a living shouldn’t attract harassment.”
Mr. Abubakar’s reaction came a day after Nigerians started trending the #EndSARS hashtag to draw attention to alleged criminalities of SARS officers.
“I commend our young people for protesting these injustices peacefully online, and encourage the IG of @PoliceNG to take these complaints seriously.
“I also urge the National Assembly to look into these complaints, and address the human rights issues. Reforms are urgently needed,” Mr. Abubakar said.
A petition was also opened online for Nigerians to sign to force the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap SARS and amend the police.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the campaign and how a police watchdog group, NOPRIN, had asked for SARS to be scrapped since 2010 after chronicling several cases of abuses by the department.
Police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, initially asked PREMIUM TIMES to ignore the campaigners, saying he would call back to give reactions to the allegations against SARS later on Saturday evening.
However, PREMIUM TIMES attempts to get his full reaction between Saturday night and Sunday morning didn’t work out as he didn’t pick phone calls.
Similarly, Hyacinth Dagala and Umar Shehu, the Deputy Inspector-General and Assistant Inspector-General in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, did not answer PREMIUM TIMES phone calls and text messages seeking their comments Sunday morning.