Youths in Bauchi and Niger states under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) staged a protest on Thursday morning to demand an end to insecurity, poor road infrastructure, and epileptic power supply in the north.
They believe the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team is in a better position to tackle various forms of security threats such as killings, banditry, kidnapping, rape, and including the terrorist group’ Boko Haram’ in the region if they are fully equipped and trained.
The youths in Niger state also decried the poor condition of road infrastructures in the state, which they describe as death traps .
Several persons have been injured after hoodlums hijacked the SARSMustEnd protest in Abuja on Wednesday.
The protesters who were marching across major streets in the city were said to have been attacked by a pro-SARS group – turning what had started as a peaceful protest into raging violence, characterized by shattered windscreens and bleeding people.
The group who claimed to be supporters of the police subunit, SARS, said the ongoing #EndSARS protests were capable of demoralising the police.
This comes about 24 hours after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, set up a new unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS).
Despite the development, the protests have remained unabated as many Nigerians believe that a mere change of name is not the solution to the problem.
This quickly sparked a new trend #EndSWAT; with Nigerians demanding immediate justice for all victims of police brutality, among other things.
The protesters have defied all efforts to stop them and are bent on continuing until all their demands are met.
Some of the demands include releasing all arrested protesters, justice and compensation for families of victims, the creation of an independent body to oversee the prosecution of officers (within 10 days), psychological evaluation of disbanded officers before redeployment, and the increase of police officers’ salaries.
While the police appear to be making some effort, many Nigerians feel it is not satisfactory.
Beyond setting up a new unit, prospective members of the new (SWAT) team are expected to undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.
The IGP has also ordered all personnel of the disbanded SARS to report to the Force headquarters in Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
While a time-frame for the medical evaluation has not been disclosed, the IGP was quoted to have said in a statement by the Force PRO, Frank Mba, that the officers are expected to undergo the process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.
The medical examination will be carried out by a newly set-up Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU), a unit which the Force says will, henceforth, engage in psychological management, reorientation and training of the officers of the force deployed for tactical operations and other duties.
“The unit, which is domiciled with the Force Medical Department and coordinated by the Force Medical Officer, has its membership drawn from among psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, pastors, and imams, public relations practitioners, civil society and other human rights groups with relevant qualification and expertise,” the statement read in part.
Police officers attached to the Ogun State Police Command have assaulted a journalist, Tobi Adepoju, and other protesters during an #EndSARS protest.
In a video clip obtained by Channels Television on Monday, the reporter was repeatedly hit by police operatives at the Ajuwon police station.
He explained that the protesters mobilised themselves for a peaceful march around Alagoble, Akute, Ajuwon and Iju communities before the incident occurred.
The journalist explained that efforts made by displaying his identity card proved futile as the security operatives numbering 20 approached his car before being brutalised.
“When the police started shooting, I stayed calm inside my car and about 20 policemen came to my car and brutalised me despite showing them my Press ID card. I was beaten and arrested with other eight protesters,” he said.
“As a media practitioner and a resident at Alagbole Community, I joined the protest to report the event.
“We moved from Akute to Alagbole and when we got to Ajuwon, the Ajuwon police station opened up shooting on us,” he added.
He noted that they were eventually released after spending three hours in police detention, adding that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) thereafter apologised for the actions of the officers.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to ensure officers of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) who are involved in human rights abuses are punished.
“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must act to identify and punish those operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality, and murder of Nigerian citizens,” the Speaker was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi on Sunday.
“These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country”.
Gbajabiamila made the call a few hours after the IGP announced that the infamous police unit had been dissolved, in reaction to widespread protests by Nigerians who called for him to do just that.
The Speaker considers the dissolution of SARS a “necessary response” by the government and he commended the IGP and President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding the people’s demand about the unit, which has gained notoriety over the years for extortion, brutality, and other forms of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings.
He also believes that the development and the broader, ongoing reforms of the police that will follow, are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes.
While the protests were ongoing, there were still pockets of harassment, violence, and even the killing of a young man, Jimoh Isiaq in Ogbomoso.
Expressing his displeasure over these, Gbajabiamila noted that there is now a pressing need to have an independent system for monitoring the actions of the police.
As part of support, he had last week, promised to meet with the Nigerian Bar Association and members of civil society groups among others, to ensure that structural reforms and policies are put in place to end the years-long menace.
Reiterating that promise, he said the House will continue its work to legislate lasting solutions to the problems of policing in Nigeria.
Specifically, the Speaker promised that the green chamber will be meeting with the aforementioned groups “to begin joint efforts at developing a legislative proposal”.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for listening to the call by Nigerians to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
According to a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila said the dissolution of the unit of the police was a necessary response by the government to the outcry arising from their multiple documented excesses across the country.
The Speaker also commended Nigerians, particularly the millions of young people at home and abroad, who saw a wrong and sought to make it right, who saw injustice and acted to put an end to it.
According to him, the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), and the broader, ongoing reforms of the police that will follow, are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes.
The Speaker also called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar Adamu to take practical steps to support and enforce this policy pronouncement.
“These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country.
“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must also act to identify and punish those operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality and murder of Nigerian citizens.”
Gbajabiamila noted with displeasure the police’s manhandling of the some protesters, who came out in numbers to protest peacefully.
The Speaker wishes to assure all Nigerians that the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) will not preclude the ongoing efforts by the House of Representatives to effect reforms of the police through legislation.
“There is still a pressing need to have an independent system for monitoring police actions and holding police officers to proper account for failures to follow the law and the police code. The House will continue its work to legislate lasting solutions to the problems of policing in Nigeria.”
In support of these efforts, the House will this week meet with the national leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and select civil society organisations to begin joint efforts at developing a legislative proposal.
“Whatever legislation emerges from this collaboration will be presented to the House within the 30-day timeline announced by Speaker Gbajabiamila at the special session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday 7th October 2020.”
The House had on Wednesday rose against the brutality of SARS officers, passing some vital resolutions on the matter and demanded the IGP to take decisive action against the brutality and human rights violation by SARS officers and report the said action to the Green Chamber within three weeks.
The lawmakers also requested the police chief to produce a comprehensive record of disciplinary and/or judicial action taken against the officers accused of abuse of power in the past five years. Equally rising from the resolutions, the House asked the IGP to produce an immediate plan for identifying and compensating the victims of the brutality and abuses.
With regards to reforming the police, the House resolved to take immediate steps to amend existing laws and the 1999 Constitution to excise Section 215 (5) and replace it with provisions that ensure judicial review of police actions are enshrined and protected by the constitution.
Furthermore, the House resolved to establish a framework for holding individual members of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) accountable for their conduct in the course of performing their lawful duties, including criminal and civil liabilities.
It was equally resolved that the Nigeria Police Force would be allowed to bear civil liability for failures in their conduct and operational procedures that lead to violations of citizens’ rights.
Hundreds of Algerians defied a nationwide ban on protests and took to the streets Monday to demand democratic change and mark the anniversary of 1988 demonstrations that ushered in reforms.
Around 400 to 500 demonstrators in Algiers tried to march to the city centre but were dispersed by police who made a number of arrests, an AFP reporter said.
A prisoners support committee, the CNLD, said more than 20 people were arrested including students.
Protests also took place in several other areas of Algeria, with demonstrators chanting: “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Yes to a civil state, no to a military state”, according to the CNLD and social media.
They called for the release of members of the Hirak, the anti-government protest movement which last year swept ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power.
More than 60 people are currently behind bars for acts related to Hirak, according to the CNLD.
Protesters had kept up rallies after Bouteflika stepped down, demanding the ouster of the entire state apparatus, widely seen as inept and corrupt.
But weekly demonstrations came to a halt earlier this year due to restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
With less than a month to go before a key referendum on constitutional reform — a vote the government hopes will meet protesters’ demands — many expect a resurgence of rallies.
Monday’s protests also marked the anniversary of October 1988 demonstrations which rocked Algiers, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.
The protests left 150 dead, according to an official toll, but rights activists say the actual figure was more 500.
The army clamped down on the demonstrators but introduced political reforms which brought an end to a single-party system.
Police and members of the #RevolutionNow Movement on Thursday were involved in heated brawls following a nationwide protest staged by the group.
The group mainly made up of young persons staged a protest in various states and at the Federal Capital Territory where they went to the United States Embassy expressing their disapproval of the nation’s security situation and the socio-economic crisis.
At the US Consulate in Abuja, they demanded the resignation of the President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that the present administration has not effectively tackled the issues of insecurity, hunger, and corruption in the country.
Under the leadership of their convener, Omoyele Sowore, members of the movement wielded a big banner with the inscription, ‘Buhari has failed,’ and other placards which read, ‘Failed leadership has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world,’ and ‘#RevolutionNow’.
Joining the protest in Abuja were #BringBackOurGirls activist, Aisha Yesufu, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael, Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, among others.
Together, the protesters berated the government, claiming that the present administration has failed to live up to the promises made to Nigerians.
While the protest in Abuja was seemingly hitch-free, the protest in Lagos was met with stiff opposition from the Nigerian Police force, resulting in the brutalization of a journalist.
Men of the police force are said to have attacked Mr. Olukayode Jaiyeola, a Punch photojournalist who was covering the protest stages within the Maryland area of the metropolis.
A police inspector, Mr. Innocent Adadu, used a baton on Jaiyeola’s head causing him to collapse immediately, with blood gushing out of his fractured skull.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, ordered the immediate detention of the inspector who is attached to PMF 22 Ikeja.
The commissioner ordered that Inspector Adadu be tried in order to serve as a deterrent to others who are fond of engaging in unprofessional and unethical conduct.
Channels Television learned the commissioner rushed to the scene and personally moved the injured journalist to the Police Hospital.
While waiting to ensure that the injured journalist was given immediate and best medical treatment, the police boss cut-off all other engagements to stay throughout the journalist’s treatment and subsequent discharge.
Many injured, dozens arrested?
There are claims that beyond the case of the journalist who was severely beaten, many members of the Revolution Now Group who protested on Thursday were injured and dozens were arrested across the country.
In Lagos alone, there are reports suggesting that over 30 persons were arrested, a situation which has stirred another round of protests all over social media.
The reports from Ibadan, Osogbo, Taraba, Benue, Kano, and other states where the protest held, were all the same. Protesters were harassed by security operatives with many getting beat up while others were arrested.
Reacting to the situation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a series of tweets called on the international community and the United Nations Human Rights Office to publicly condemn what it termed ‘violations’.
SERAP also asked the international bodies to hold Nigerian authorities to account for systematic violations of human rights including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Earlier in the week, the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest announced plans to hold a mass action against poor governance in Nigeria.
According to CORE, the protest scheduled for October 1st was a demonstration to demand the reversal of “anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.”
In its statement on the matter, CORE stated that “These harsh policies that have bored a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.
“It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism, and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest.”
The group demanded amongst other things the reversal of the hike in the price of petrol from N148 to N151, an end to “state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari” and the sacking of all service chiefs in the country due to their “proven incompetence in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed and is still claiming the life of Nigerians daily.”
Following the cancellation of the Independence Day parade and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 persons by the Lagos State Government, the police had warned against people gathering in the state for protests and rallies.
However, the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest insisted they will hold the mass action, a stand which led the police to storm the rally venues in a bid to disperse the gathering.
On August 5, 2019, the #RevolutionNow protest was first staged and the second edition on the same date this year, held across major cities in the country.
The rather peaceful demonstrations have been met with a clampdown by security operatives, resulting in arrests and incarceration of many protesters.
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28.
In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices.
The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
In the statement by Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.
Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.
The NLC Secretary also noted that all Presidents and General Secretaries are expected to lead and identify with their members at the take-off point.
Reverse fuel, electricity price, or?
Earlier in September, Organised Labour threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the Federal Government refuses to reverse the recent increases in fuel and electricity tariff.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba while making the announcement in Abuja said the NLC’s central working committee (CWC) has resolved to issue a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse the increase.
He said workers and Nigerians are disappointed that the government decided to increase both the price of fuel and electricity tariff at a time “other countries across the world are giving palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effect of COVID-19.”
“NLC central committee will also mobilise its members, civic society allies, and other social partners to resist this policy because it has driven many into poverty,” Wabba added.
Ahead of the threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to resort to industrial action, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held an emergency meeting of all the governors.
Following the meeting, the NGF cautioned NLC against the planned strike, arguing that any plan to down tools will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riot police on Saturday detained hundreds of women, dragging many into vans, as opposition protesters marched through the Belarusian capital Minsk demanding an end to President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule.
The women were seized by riot police in black uniforms and balaclavas as well as officers in unmarked khaki uniforms and plain-clothed officers in face masks.
Police blocked the women and began pulling them into police vans as they stood with linked hands, swiftly detaining hundreds, an AFP journalist saw. Police lifted some women off their feet in order to remove them.
Around two thousand women took part in the “Sparkly March”, wearing shiny accessories and carrying red-and-white flags of the protest movement.
The march was the latest in a series of all-women protests calling for the strongman to leave following his disputed victory in elections last month.
His opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also claimed the victory.
Alleged police violence and torture of detainees following the elections have prompted the European Parliament to call for sanctions against Lukashenko and other members of his regime.
– Protest With ‘Woman’s Face’ –
In a statement released ahead of the march, Tikhanovskaya, who has taken refuge in Lithuania, praised the “brave women of Belarus”.
“They are marching despite being constantly menaced and put under pressure,” she said.
The marchers chanted slogans such as “Get out, you and your riot police!” and “We believe we can win!”
One of the placards read: “Our protest has a woman’s face,” a reference to the title of a popular book by the Belarusian Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, who has backed the opposition cause.
Among those detained on Saturday was Nina Baginskaya, a 73-year-old activist who has become one of the best-known faces of the protest movement, known for her plucky antics and regularly celebrated with a chant of “Nina! Nina!”.
Police took away the flag and flowers she was carrying as they pushed her into a van but released her outside a police station shortly afterwards.
Police detained so many protesters that they ran out of room in vans, releasing around 10 women.
Some women managed to run away and took shelter in a nearby nail bar, Tut.by news site reported.
Ambulances were called after several women became unwell during the detentions. The Belarusian Association of Journalists said that a journalist had been detained and had his nose broken.
Viasna rights group released an online list of names of 217 women detained in Minsk, saying the list was being updated.
Police have not yet given a number of detained.
The protest came as the opposition is due to hold mass demonstrations on Sunday and Tikhanovskaya will meet European Union foreign ministers and the bloc’s diplomatic chief in Brussels on Monday.
The women’s protests began in Belarus after Lukashenko’s use of extreme violence against detained demonstrators.
Women began forming human chains and marching through Minsk and other cities wearing white clothes and carrying flowers in peaceful demonstrations that police initially allowed to go ahead.
Last weekend, police violently detained several dozen at a similar women’s protest.
Lukashenko last week warned of a possible “war” with some neighbouring countries and has turned to Russia for support after refusing to step down.
Tens of thousands of Mauritians protested Saturday in the capital Port Louis over the government’s handling of a giant oil spill off its pristine Indian Ocean coast.
The Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio crashed into a reef off southeastern Mauritius last month spewing more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into waters that are home to mangrove forests and endangered species.
After the boat split in two, the larger piece was towed out to sea and sunk, but the smaller section remains stranded on the reef.
The call for the march came from an ordinary citizen, Jean Bruneau Laurette, who has become a hero among many for daring to oppose Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.
Laurette, a maritime security expert, says the government has been hiding the truth about the circumstances of the oil spill. He has filed a case against the environment ministry.
Up to 75,000 protesters thronged the square in front of the cathedral in downtown Port-Louis, an AFP reporter said, in the biggest demonstration in 40 years.
Many of them were dressed in black — the colour of mourning. Public anger has boiled over in Mauritius after at least 34 melon-headed whales were found dead or seriously ill near the site of the spill.
Fisheries minister Sudheer Maudhoo had said there was “no trace of hydrocarbons on them or in their respiratory system”.
“This rally is an occasion to send a message to tell Pravind Jugnauth he has messed up,” marcher Jocelyne Leung, 35, told AFP.
“This is the first time that a citizens’ demonstration has gathered such a big crowd,” said Ajay Gunness, the number two of the opposition MMM party.
Many protesters carried the national flag, sang the national anthem, and called for Jugnauth to step down.
Authorities and experts from Japan and Britain are still investigating the true extent of the ecological damage to an island whose economy depends heavily on tourism.
This archipelago is a tourist haven and many of it’s 1.3 population derive their livelihood from tourism or fishing.
Veteran politician Jugnauth, whose current stint in power began in 2017, has denied making any mistakes in handling the spill.