VICE president Professor Yemi Osinbajo has apologised to Nigerians for the failure of the government to react to incessant instances of police brutality across the country promising that the government will address all the issues raised by the ongoing nationwide protests.
Over the last fortnight, Nigeria has been wracked by protests after an incident of members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) murdering a young man in cold blood. Given the popularity of the protests, the federal government has been forced to abolish Sars and replace it with a new outfit, whose members will be properly trained and remunerated.
Acknowledging that the government has not moved quick enough on the matter, Professor Osinbajo faulted the administration for not moving faster in addressing the demands of Nigerians. In a series of tweets he admitted that he knows many Nigerians are angry, pointing out that their anger was justified.
Professor Osinbajo said: “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry. I fully understand how many young people feel as many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough and these feelings of frustration are justified.
“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
“Over the past week, we have been following the protests and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.
“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.
“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states and the hearings will be public. With Mr. President’s approval, Sars has been completely disestablished and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.
“I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.”
He added that the government has proposed that each state government set up a victims’ support fund to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers. Professor Osinbajo noted that far too many people have been brutalised by the police, pointing out that this is unacceptable as it was the responsibility of the government to protect young people, even from those who are paid to protect them.
“We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just Sars. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
“We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust,” Professor Osinbajo added.