Presidential panel approves 5 #ENDSARS demands, ends use of force against protesters

A presidential panel on Tuesday approved the demands of #SARSMUSTGO protesters, including halting the use of force against protesters and the unconditional release of those who have been arrested.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the panel okayed the five-point demands of the protesters in a forum convened by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the National Human Rights Commission, with stakeholders.

The multi-stakeholders’ forum was attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organizations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry, and the #ENDSARS movement and development partners.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting read in part “The Forum collectively: welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest; Further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms that the five-point demands of the protesters and the #ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.’’

The communiqué was signed by the Inspector-General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu.

Tuesday’s decision comes on the back of continued protests across the country, despite the dissolution of SARS by the IGP on Sunday, Channels TV reports.

Beyond agreeing to the demands of the protesters, the forum said the dissolution of SARS presented an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive, and citizen-centered law enforcement organization.

“The Forum further noted that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force,” the communique said.

“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.”

Part of the demands of the protesters was an investigation into human rights violations against SARS operatives, including killings, and the brutalization of protesters.

This was also addressed in the communique.

“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police,” it said.

“The Forum agrees to the setting up of this Independent Panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week. An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within one week.”

It also addressed calls for the retraining of SARS operatives before they are redeployed, saying, “The Forum recommends the psychological evaluation, training, and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.

“The Forum resolves to set up the following Technical Sub-Committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity, and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications, and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability, and Financing and Partnerships.’’

The communiqué stated that sub-Committees will be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations.

Those who attended the meeting are: Dr. Kole Shettima- MAC Arthur Foundation; Innocent Chukwuma – Ford Foundation; Jude Ilo- of OSIWA; Segun Awosanya (Segalinks) – End Sars Movement; Yemi Adamolekun- Enough is Enough; Clément Nwankwo- PLAC; Rafsanjani- CISLAC; Kemi Okonyedo- PWAN; YZ – CITAD; Folarin Falana Falz; Prof Deji Adekunle –NIALS; Chris Ngwodo, SSA to President Research & Policy; Dr. Fatima Waziri – Rule of Law Adviser OVP and Abdulrahman Yakubu – NHRC Secretariat.

Others are Hilary Ogbonna- NHRC secretariat; Halilu Adamu – NHRC Secretariat; Ben Aguh – NHRC secretariat; Dr. Uju Agomuoh – PRAWA and Onyinye Ndubuisi – UNDP.

The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting.