#EndSARS: WANEP expresses concerns over killings, destruction of properties

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THE West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Nigeria, WANEP-Nigeria, and its member organisations have expressed deep concerns over the killings, destruction of properties in ongoing protests against Police officers of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad, SARS, and failure to bring perpetrators to book.

The National Network Coordinator, WANEP-Nigeria, Ms. Bridget Osakwe, disclosing this on a statement, on Tuesday, said 15 people had been reportedly killed and several injured since the protests that began on October 8.

She noted that the demonstrations have generated increased conversations on the prevalence of human rights abuses perpetrated by security operatives and the inadequacies of law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators of abuses to justice.

She also noted that issues of inadequate police funding and capacity building are among the underlying factors that account for the lack of professionalism and corrupt practices in the security service’s discharge of their duties.

Osakwe, however, informed that WANEP has set up a Situation Room to monitor and analyse the protest and government responses for appropriate policy recommendations.

“WANEP Nigeria also use this medium to call for widespread consultations with key stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the protests,” she said.

She among other things urged the youths to put forward representatives from the six geopolitical zones to dialogue with the Federal Government to ensure all their concerns and needs are brought to the table to proffer recommendations that will promote peace and security in Nigeria.

Since the beginning of the protest on October 8, 2020, the statement read, 26 out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has recorded series of demonstrations with 15 persons reportedly killed and several other injured amidst the protests.

According to WANEP, Nigerians in diaspora have reacted to the situation staging similar protests in solidarity notably London, Dublin and Ireland in the United Kingdom and New York in the United States of America on October 11, 2020; Toronto in Canada and Berlin in Germany on October 12, 2020; Nigeria High Commission in Accra, Ghana on October 13, 2020 and the Nigerian Embassy in Johannesburg in South Africa on October 15, 2020.

“While we salute the resilience, courage and commitment of the Nigerian youths to utilize a non -violent approach to express their grievances within the confines of the law to provoke desired changes, however, suspected hoodlums have exploited the protests to increase  their criminal activities in Delta, Abuja, Lagos, Osun and Edo States. This has resulted in 3 deaths in Delta and Edo States with several persons injured, destruction of vehicles, setting ablaze of police stations, looting of shopping malls and a prison break resulting in the imposition of a 24-hour curfew to curtail violence by the Governors of Edo and Lagos States.

Part of the statement read: “WANEP–Nigeria reiterates that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow and their lives matter. The peaceful protests are in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) to uphold the fundamental human rights of its citizens. Also, it supports the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250, which calls for the inclusion of young persons in decision-making and peace processes at all levels.

“We commend the Federal Government and the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police, IGP, for the disbandment of the SARS Unit and setting up of a new Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT, team, as well as the approval of the five points, demand issued by the youth.

Other proposed interventions by National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to set up an independent investigation panel to look into human rights violations by the SARs and the establishment of a two hundred (200) million naira trust fund to compensate victims of police brutality by the Lagos State government are applaudable actions aimed to respond to the grievances of the youths.”

“We therefore set up a Situation Room to monitor and analyse the protest and government responses for appropriate policy recommendations. WANEP Nigeria also use this medium to call for widespread consultations with key stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the protests.”

To this end, WANEP-Nigeria listed five-point recommendations:

  • The youths to put forward representatives from the six geopolitical zones to dialogue with the Federal Government to ensure all their concerns and needs are brought to the table to proffer recommendations that will promote peace and security in Nigeria.
  • The Federal Government to rebuild public confidence and trust through consultations with the citizens particularly youths, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, media and the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC. This approach should be complemented with confidence building structures including the setting up of a public inquiry on the police reform procedures to foster trust in security agencies’ ability to tackle issues of human security threats.
  • The Federal Government, the office of the IGP, National Human Rights Organisations and the CSOs should carefully consider all options put forward by the police reform committee, especially the concerns on police welfare packages to resolve the incessant cases of human rights violations.
  • The Federal and State Governments should invest in youth employment to create sustainable economic opportunities for young people in the country through the implementation of the 774,000 jobs approved in 2020. This should be linked with the creation of platforms for inclusive participation and amplification of youth voices in the decision-making processes in the country.
  • State Governments, in collaboration with security agencies, CSOs and traditional/religious institutions should create avenues for improved interface between communities and security officers for effective service delivery in terms of security    – Oct. 21, 2020 @ 13:35 GMT |
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