Soldiers confront protesters, NBA demands audit of SARS evil centres

Written by on October 14, 2020

The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in its disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by throwing all detention centres of SARS open.

The NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata, who made the call at a press conference in Abuja, listed some of the SARS’ infamous detention centres in the country as Abuja “human abattoir” as well as the squad’s detention centres in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

He called for a comprehensive audit of all detention centres of the disbanded squad to take stock of detainees.

The NBA made the call on Tuesday as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said he had set up the Special Weapons and Tactics Team that would replace the disbanded SARS.

Recall that the IGP on Sunday disbanded SARS following protests by youths, who alleged high-handedness and extortion by the squad.

The NBA president, who warned security agents against attacking anti-SARS campaigners, said the association would provide legal support for protesters.

Akpata said the association had set up a platform, publicinterest@nigerianbar.org.ng, for submission of complaints by members of the public.

According to him, the FG should throw SARS’ detention centres open to prove that the squad has been truly disbanded.

He said mere pronouncements of the disbandment of SARS would not put an end to protests against police brutality.

“What is key now is sincerity,” Akpata said while answering a question on what the government needed to do to end the protests.

He added, “First and foremost, the issue to address is that the issue of detention centres of SARS around the country where people are detained for alleged offences. They should be addressed.

“As a mark of good faith, and good disclosure, it will be important for the police to throw open these centres just to convince us that not only has SARS been disbanded, but also that indeed its activities have been brought to an end.”

Akpata also said the public must see that culpable SARS operatives were either disciplined or prosecuted depending on the degrees of allegations established against them.

NBA lists Abuja human abattoir, Lagos, P’Harcourt, others as SARS’ infamous detention centres

He identified the most notorious SARS detention centres in the country to include “the infamous ‘human abattoir’ in Abuja”, the one in Awkuzu, Anambra State and the others in Lagos, and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The NBA president, who categorised the group’s demands into short, mid and long terms, called for “an immediate audit of the detainees” in the notorious centres “and other facilities”, as part of its mid-term demands.

He also demanded “an expedited audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country.”

As part of its short-term demands, Akpata said the right of the citizens to protest “is inalienable and fundamental right that is not only recognised by the Nigerian constitution, but has also been consistently upheld by Nigerian courts at all levels”.

Aside condemning any ban on protests, the NBA president called on “governments at all levels to protect the rights of all citizens participating in the peaceful protests across the country.”

IG meets govs today

On his part, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the IGP would meet with governors on Wednesday (today).

Sanwo-Olu stated this in an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday after meeting with the President, adding that he had earlier met with the IGP.

“Part of the takeaway for me is that all the governors are on the same page. We are having a governors forum meeting tomorrow. The IG will be briefing us at that meeting and further clear directives and decisions will be taken by all the governors,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said he had presented protesting youths’ letter to Buhari. As proofs of government’s commitment, Sanwo-Olu said all protesters arrested on Monday have been released.

On its part, the Presidency said the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad had approved the demands of #EndSARS protesters.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Presidential panel on police reforms swings into action, okays five-point demands of protesters.



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