Youth in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State, on Monday staged a peaceful march in solidarity with the #EndSARS protests rocking the country,
The youth disregarded the statement of the Anambra youth wing of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organization, which on Sunday called for a cancellation of the planned protest.
The Ohaneze youth wing said its decision followed the announcement of the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed.
In a statement signed by Chukwuma Okpalaezeukwu, leader Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo Youth Wing Anambra State, the group said the high-handedness and unprofessional manner with which many SARS officers operate leaves a lot to be desired.
“Igbo youth had our share of the unsavoury experience hence the reason of the peaceful #EndSARSBRUTALITY and #REFORMNIGERIAPOLICE protest in Awka Anambra State on the 10th October 2020,” he said.
Mr Okpalaezeukwu said the Saturday protest in Awka was detailed in planning, mature in execution, and it went within the armbit of the law.
“With every sense of responsibility I announce to Igbo Youth in Anambra that the Onitsha #ENDSARSBRUTALITY & # REFORMNIGERIAPOLICE protest scheduled to hold on Monday 12th October 2020 is hereby called off.”
“The announcement of the Inspector General Of Police Muhammad Adamu dissolving SARS across all formation in the country makes the protest unnecessary,” he added.
But the youth of the state made up mainly of businessmen, bloggers, media presenters, career men and women, humanitarian foundations, individual associations, ignored Mr Okpalaezeukwu’s orders and came out enmasse for the protest.
The youth gathered at CMS roundabout, from where they marched round major streets in the town before proceeding to Central Police Station, Onitsha where they were received by the police.
One of the protesters told PREMIUM TIMES that disbanding SARS is not enough.
She said the youth are also demanding an immediate release of all arrested protesters across the country and justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.
They also demanded the setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all police misconduct.
Other demands by the youth include psychological evaluation, re-training and re-orientation of all former SARS officers before re-integrating them into other units of the police force.
They demanded that such psycholoical evaluation of the SARS officers must be carried out by for an independent body, even as they canvassed for increased pay for all police officers in the country.
A similar protest was held simultaneously in Umuahia, capital of Abia State by other youth in the state.
They visited the police headquarters on Bende Road and Abịa State House of Assembly as well as the Abia Government House.
Reacting to the protests, governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazụ, said he has taken note of the requests of the youth.
In a statement on his Twitter handle, the governor said: “I have taken note of the peaceful protests tagged #EndSARS and wish to assure Abịa youth and the general public that we will take up their concerns and ensure that your voices are heard at the right quarters.”