GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwoolu has appealed to protesters demonstrating against the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) not to doubt the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari in disbanding the unit after he announced he would yesterday.
Over the last week, Nigerians have taken to the streets in their millions to demand the dissolution of Sars in response to incessant cases of police murdering innocent civilians. Across several Nigerian cities and in London and New York among other places, protesters have taken to the streets over the last week calling for Sars to be dissolved.
Under pressure, yesterday, the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu announced that the Sars unit was being dissolved nationwide. With scepticism growing as to whether the government will really do it, Governor Sanwoolu and the minister of police affairs Maigari Dingyadi, have urged Nigerians to have faith in the government.
Governor Sanwoolu described the dissolution of Sars as a victory for Nigerian youths, pointing out that the protests showed that people have the right to express their views. In London alone, yesterday, thousands of Nigerians gathered outside the high commission demanding that the Sars unit be banned and the perpetuators of violence be brought to book.
Last weekend, Sars operatives killed a young boy identified as Joshua Ambrose in cold blood in Delta State but unfortunately for them, videographer Prince Nicholas Makolomi, recorded the whole incident live. His video, which fuelled anger across Nigeria, also led to a mob attack on an off-duty Sars operative, Sergeant Ohwovwiogor Fidelis at the Ughelli Central Garage as an angry mob doused him in fuel, attempting to set him ablaze.
This sparked off a series of nationwide protests, with celebrities joining in with an online campaign across social media. A petition calling for Mr Adamu and senior police officers to be banned from visiting the UK and US has also attracted a large number of signatures, with Mr Dingyadi in particular coming in for a lot of criticism over what is seen as his nonchalant attitude to the crisis.
Governor Sanwoolu said: “The beauty of democracy is that people have the right to protest, to air their views, to speak out when things are not going right and I have identified with them. This is real democracy being played out as they have the right as our youths, as our citizens to correct and say we do not want this.
”Let me commend all of our youths that have come out in Lagos. I have been monitoring on a daily basis and it has been very peaceful. That is what we want, you can actually make your point in a peaceful and orderly manner.”
Mr Dingyadi added: “I urge Nigerians to see the disbandment of Sars, as the government’s commitment to deepening relationship between Nigerians and the police, for better service delivery. Let’s continue to work together to secure our communities.”
However, the protests have continued despite the Mr Adamu’s, announcement dissolving Sars. He had also announced plans for a new arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps following the disbandment and the constitution of an investigative team to probe the alleged cases of rights violations, among others.