#EndSARS: UK Lawmaker Seeks Review Of Funding For Nigerian Security Agencies
A member of the UK Parliament, Kate Osamor, is seeking a review of the country’s funding of some Nigerian security agencies following the #EndSARS protests that rocked the West African nation.
“Despite previously stating the opposite, the government has now admitted to funding the SARS unit in the last four years,” the member of parliament said on Monday evening during a debate on the #EndSARS protests. “That funding not only included the training to those units but the supply of equipment.”
While describing the #EndSARS protests as a movement “peacefully demanding an end to brutality, extortion and extrajudicial executions and for a truly democratic Nigeria,” Osamor argued that the funds used in backing Nigeria’s security agencies should be channelled to other projects.
“Today, we need to consider how the government should respond to both the movement itself and the violent actions of the Nigerian regime,” Osamor, a Labour and Co-operative lawmaker, representing Edmonton, argued.
“However, we must also take this opportunity to look beyond sanctions to a way in which development funding is spent in Nigeria. Instead of funding corrupt security services and investing in projects which do not benefit ordinary Nigerians, we need a new focus on poverty relief and anti-corruption programmes.”
The 52-year-old who was first elected into the UK Parliament in 2015 condemned the handling of the protest by the Nigerian government and believes that the #EndSARS movement was not just about the disbandment of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The situation in Nigeria is incredibly serious with tragedy after tragedy unfolding on the streets in state after state as the Nigerian government and its security forces take ever more repressive measures to end a protest movement which has given hope to millions across the globe,” she noted.
The @UKLabour is calling for independent investigations into the allegations against SARS units, as well as military, security and policing forces responsible for attacks on protesters, that could lead to targeted Magnitsky-style sanctions against responsible individuals. 1/2
— Kate Osamor| Labour – Co-operative MP| Edmonton || (@KateOsamor) November 24, 2020
Osamor who was born to Nigerian parents equally said, “It is a movement led by the youths of Nigeria, who took to the streets of Nigeria peacefully, demanding an end to brutality, extortion and extrajudicial executions and for a truly democratic Nigeria. The bravery of the youth-led movement would never be defeated.”
On October 29th, she shared a letter from the UK Minister for Africa confirming that the UK Government “has trained and supplied equipment to SARS units from 2016 to 2020.”
On 19 October the Minister for Africa @JamesDuddridge assured me that the UK Government had provided no funding to SARS units.
— Kate Osamor| Labour – Co-operative MP| Edmonton || (@KateOsamor) October 29, 2020
“This was in support of our wider objectives to strengthen the capacity, accountability and responsiveness of the Nigerian Police Force,” the letter addressed to the Labour lawmaker stated.
“The Nigeria Policing Programme was part of our Society and Justice Reform Programme, which is working to help deliver a criminal justice system that better protects the human rights of all Nigerians.”
A Petition For Sanctions
Monday’s debate followed a petition brought to the lawmakers by one Silas Ojo, seeking to sanction those who allegedly abused people during the protests/
As of Sunday evening, the petition had garnered 220,315 signatures, according to the UK Parliament’s website, crossing the 100, 000 mark needed for a petition to be debated by the lawmakers.
Early last month, thousands of Nigerians thronged to the streets, calling for an end to police brutality and extra-judicial killings by the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
A largely peaceful demonstration in several parts of the country, however, later turned violent with arson, looting and killing of security personnel and civilians alike after it was hijacked by hoodlums.