Dr Kayode Ajulo, a Human Rights Lawyers on Friday said that the ultimate panacea for nationwide #ENDSARS protests remained the enthronement of the principle of rule of law.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the recent clampdown, brutality, harassments, killings and inhumane treatment of Nigerian citizens especially the youth by some Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have left much to be desired of the Nigeria Police.
“All these acts which have finally led to a backlash clearly arose from men of the SARS Unit ignoring the rule of law and employing the use of force without basis/due process,” Ajulo said in a statement in Lagos.
According to him, it must be noted that the litmus test for the determination of a great nation is good governance always.
He said that this should be characterised by open and enlightened policy-making, with an executive arm of government that is accountable, a strong civil society and a bureaucracy that is truly professional, all acting within the law.
“The ingredients of good governance are inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, effectiveness, equity and the observance of the rule of law to ensure that the voices of all, including the most vulnerable in the society, are brought into the decision making process.
“Nigeria as a developing country is still in the process of evolving a clear democratic political culture,” Ajulo said.
He added that at present, Nigeria had a weak economic base, perennial unemployment, especially among the youth, women and other vulnerable groups and political instability.
Ajulo said that the above challenges had been worsened by the problem of insecurity and lack of adherence to the principles of rule of law without which the growth of the nation would only amount to a mirage.
“It is quite unassailable that the present travails of the Nigerian youth and the vulnerable in the hands of some unscrupulous elements of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which informed the protests must be seen as a continuation of the war being waged on the desecration of the entrenched principles of rule of law.
“While celebrating the Nigerian Youth for the clarion call and a battle well fought, it is quite obvious that disbanding the SARS without reforming the Nigerian Police Force is only a Greek gift that can only yield a placebo effect.
“It is imperative to draw attention to Clauses 2 and 3 of the highlights of the IGP’s speech where it was stated that all officers and men serving in the Unit will be redeployed to other Police Commands, Formations and Units and a new policing strategy would be put in place to tackle armed robbery.
“It is stating the obvious that considering the ‘expertise’ of the members of the ‘defunct’ SARS Unit, they are undoubtedly the same set of persons that will be utilised in the said Unit to replace the SARS,” he added.
Ajulo called for strict entrenchment and observance of rule of law “and not just the continued existence of tyranny disguised under the cloak of ‘disbanding’.
He recommended training of the Nigerian Police on modern policing techniques and rules of engagement as well as ensuring proper psychological tests and evaluation of members of the defunct SARS Unit before re-integrating them to other Units of the Police Force.
According to him, there should be strict enforcement of accountability for any bullet discharged from any ammunitions and instant disciplinary action and proper discipline for individual officers of the Nigeria Police who violate citizens’ rights.
The human rights lawyer also called for an increment in salary/remuneration for the Police Force like their counterparts in the Nigerian Army and Navy.
He called for accountability of the IGP to the Nigeria Police Council which will consist of retired judges, legal practitioners, former legislators, elder statesmen, retired security personnel as opposed to being accountable solely to the President.
“The name “Nigeria Police Force” should be rebranded to “The Nigeria Police” as it is not a “Force”. Its main responsibility is the protection of lives and property and prevention of crimes.
“There should be adequate compensations for verified victims and casualties of police brutality and keeping of records for such numbers of SARS Unit members found wanting and prosecuted for brutality.