Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says he is concerned and angry that young men and women who are arrested, are in some cases, maimed or killed by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the Vice President expressed this view on Sunday in Abuja.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, had on Sunday banned the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), the Special Tactical Squad (STS) and Intelligence Response Team (IRT) from undertaking routine patrols as well as stop and search duties.
The ban came days after Nigerians took to social media to express anger at the unending brutality they are suffering in the hands of SARS.
Nigerians are describing the decision as another “audio ban”. This would not be the first time SARS would be “banned” following murderous brutality. There was even a time Osinbajo and a former IGP ordered a comprehensive reform of the unit with no positive result to show.
Many believe police brutality will not end until a prominent family falls victim.
Osinbajo, who had earlier, held a meeting with the IGP at his residence, said President Muhammadu Buhari and himself had discussed the matter on a number of occasions.
He said that the President was displeased about reports on activities of FSARS and was resolved to ensure reforms.
But Buhari has himself be silent on the matter at this time. The president’s message to US leader Donald Trump was even greeted with anger after popular artiste Wizkid told Buhari to leave America alone and deal with Nigeria’s problems.
Another singer, Simi, described the latest ban as a waste of time and urged the authorities to dismantle SARS entirely.
Here is what Osinbajo said on Sunday:
“Such violations are completely unacceptable because these 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 IGP and we reviewed several of these issues.
“The President 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, 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 it was obvious that a few bad eggs in the Police were causing all of the problems because it was all over the place, in different states.
Osinbajo said that the IGP’s statement, banning FSARS and others, was the first step.
“He has said clearly that police men 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.’’
By dressing casually, the vice president said that 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.
Osinbajo also said that activism was 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’’.
He said that the Federal Government would ensure that every one of those allegations against FSARS was properly investigated.
According to him, those found responsible will be prosecuted and publicised so that people will know that prosecution has taken place.
“I am very confident that we will have a reformed police force and that process has already begun’’.