Fatherland, a group of Nigerian professionals at home and abroad with its head office in London has called for the removal of the Inspector General of Police, (IG) Mohammed Adamu as a first step to rebuild public confidence in the Nigerian security architecture.
In a Thursday statement signed by its President, Mr Dele Ogun, Fatherland called for the immediate removal of Mohammed Adamu from the office. It also called for a comprehensive, citizen-led reform of policing arrangements in the country to give the people proper protection from criminals, in or out of uniform.
“The IG should have resigned. There is a stream of innocent blood flowing across the land under his feet. The proper thing is for him to quit. If he fails, he should be sacked” Fatherland said.
The group applauded protesting youths for their exceptional display of bravery and resilience in the on-going struggle against police brutality.
The group said by the protest the youths have made it clear that they will not tolerate being treated less than citizens, and indeed less than humans, by their own government.
“It is in this same spirit of defending their fundamental rights to human dignity that they have joined others across the world as part of the worldwide Black Lives Matters movement” Ogun said.
Fatherland which recently held an Inter-continental conference on the future of Nigeria said it is concerned about reports that this administration has, repeatedly, been making public announcements of the disbandment of SARs units within the Nigerian Police Force only to allow them to resurface each time.
Fatherland said it is troubled by images of men of the Nigerian Police Force shooting, with live ammunition, and in some cases killing, unarmed protesters calling for an end to SARS.
There are reports of hundreds missing, usually from police custody.
Fatherland condemned the violent attacks on protesters by the men of the Nigerian Police Force, and their hired thugs, intended to deprive citizens of their right to hold peaceful protests.
Fatherland said it believes that the events of the last week have shown that the relationship of trust and confidence that needs to exist between citizens, communities and security agencies has completely broken down.
“This is especially poignant and troubling, against the backdrop of President Buhari’s Independence Day address, in which he called for the citizenry to support government by providing the necessary community level intelligence.”
Fatherland said Buhari’s 60th anniversary celebratory speech said amongst other things that as a government, he remains committed to Nigeria’s constitutional oath of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry calling on the citizenry to also support the government by providing the necessary community level intelligence in addressing these challenges.
Fatherland regretted that two days later, on 3rd of October 2020, officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) murdered a 20 year old singer, Daniel Chibuike Ikeaguchi, popularly known as Sleek adding that in another outrage, Ifeoma Abugu, a 20 year old lady, who had just graduated and was performing her mandatory National Youth Service, was arrested in place of her fiance at his residence in Lokogoma, Abuja. Ifeoma was sexually assaulted and later died in SARS custody.
The group recalled that the ENDSARS protests commenced after the video of the musician’s corpse, lying on the road, in Elelenwo, in Rivers State, and a subsequent video of his father crying and seeking justice, went viral.
“The latest round of protests were sparked by a video recording of SARS officers dragging two young men out of a hotel in Lagos and shooting one of them. The call to protest has been answered by Nigerian youths in several states of the federation and echoed by young Nigerians abroad and members of the international community, including many celebrities.”
Fatherland said the viral, week-long, public protest, and the consequential international outrage, led the Inspector General of Police to announce, on Sunday 11th of October, the disbandment of SARS, after which President Buhari then made a statement pledging that the disbanding of SARS as the first step in the commitment to extensive police reforms promising he would ensure that all those responsible for misconducts are brought to justice.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a department within the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Nigerian Police Force. Before the announcement of its disbandment, it existed in all 36 states of the Federation with many states having both State and Federal units.
The group said the unit has evolved into an opportunistic, predatory group targeting hapless citizens for extortions, even as kidnapping, robbery and criminalities escalated across the country. As a result of this brazen practice of extortion, the unit has become a big money spinner for young officers who beg and bribe superiors to be transferred to the anti-robbery unit.
“The unit is now out of control as it has taken to terrorizing the citizenry it was established to protect to the point that its members have become indistinguishable, both in their appearance and conduct, from the armed robbers they were mandated to deal with: Usually casually dressed, heavily armed with visible tattoos, sagged trousers, dreadlocks and visible earrings, they have assumed an identity designed to terrify and intimidate citizens.”
Fatherland said with the regular Nigerian Police Force already notorious for barbaric treatment of citizens manifesting in unlawful arrests and detention, extortion; extra-judicial killings; torture and rape of citizens, the SARS officers have managed to take these pervasive acts to new heights with the bulk of their victims being youths falsely tagged as fraudsters or yahoo -yahoo boys. Reports abound of young men and women being murdered based on totally arbitrary suspicions of them being fraudsters or criminals.
“SARS officers have been reported for framing citizens by planting controlled substances on their person or claiming to have found them in possession of firearms and replacing criminals with innocent individuals, among other heinous activities. Victims of harassment by the men of the SARS have mentioned that the suspicions of the officers are usually borne out of stereotypes and profiling owning phones perceived to be expensive, possession of laptops, driving expensive cars, having dreadlocks and tattoos. Even when persons arrested or accosted are able to explain their source of income and are not found with any incriminating evidence, they are not released. Rather, they are threatened with murder and/or lengthy detention in inhuman detention cells unless they are able to pay huge sums demanded by SARS officers” the group said.
It noted that a cynical pattern has emerged in recent years whenever SARS officers have committed atrocities triggering nationwide condemnation: the federal government and/or the Inspector General of police will simply announce that SARS has been disbanded without any meaningful action taken. Accordingly, the disbandment of SARS has been announced in 2017, 2018, 2019 and now, again, in 2020, only for members of the unit to resurface in different parts of the country continuing with their abuses of Nigerian citizens. In 2018, President Buhari instituted a Panel to investigate allegations of human rights violations by SARS and to recommend reforms but then neglected to implement the recommendations of that Panel.
Fatherland listed some of the Nigerian youths who have been reported killed or missing in police custody since President Buharis announcement of the disbandment of this terror unit as follows:
Ogbomosho; Jimoh Isiaka – murdered; Mr Akeju Murdered; Ganiyu Moshood Alabi – murdered; Adeoye Taiwo – murdered; Surulere; Treasure Nduka – tortured; Felicia Okpara – tortured; Ikechukwu Ilohamauzo – murdered; Ademola Ojabodu – tortured; Ayorinde Ayinde – undergoing torture; In Benue state : Odido John Obogo – illegally detained; Ahile Shimadoo-Teravese – illegally detained; Ayuhwa Sonter Joseph – illegally detained.
It said the citizens should not become mere statistics but that the government must do justice..The group thanked members of the international community, and Nigerians in the Diaspora, for the concern and support which they have shown for the wellbeing of the youths in Nigeria and calls upon them to keep a close watch on the conduct of the Nigerian authorities.