“I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see, happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force.”
Those were the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, when State House Correspondents approached him at the Presidential Villa on his way going out of the residence this afternoon.
Prof Osinbajo was asked mainly about the economic challenges facing the country and Nigerians, and also the reported recent upsurge in the activities of FSARS regarding harassment of people alongside different violations of the rights of especially young Nigerians by some police officers.
In his response, the VP who had earlier held a meeting with the Inspector General of Police today at his residence said the President and himself had discussed the matter on a number of occasions noting the President’s displeasure about such reports and his resolve to ensure reforms.
According to him, such violations are “completely unacceptable because these are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians. The arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted.”
The VP said,
“today, I had a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, we reviewed several of these issues. The President and I have had discussions on this, he is very concerned about it. He wants to see a reform.
“You are probably aware that the IGP has issued a statement looking at all these issues, in particular, the warning against the use of these tactical units such as SARS for purposes of doing anything other than anti-robbery.
“For example, and I think in his statement, he specifically said that you cannot have a situation where SARS says, they are investigating Cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or in their cars.
“It is very obvious that this is a major concern, a few bad eggs in the police force are causing all of these problems because it is all over the place, in different states. There is a need to take serious action.
“The IG’s statement today, is a good first step. He has said clearly that police men must wear police uniforms. You cannot say that because you belong to a tactical unit, you can dress in your casual clothing and be armed, because people can’t even tell the difference between robbers and the police, if you are not properly dressed in police uniform. So, clearly, a reform is in the offing.