#EndSARS: Governors urge IGP to shelve SWAT, Lagos denies sending thugs against protesters

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have asked Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, to fish out the policemen responsible for the deaths of protesters across the country.

There has been a nationwide outrage over the excesses of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS).

Protesters had taken to the streets to demand an end to police brutality. Some of the protesters, however, clashed with security operatives, leading to the loss of lives.

Amnesty International had put the death toll at 10.

At a teleconference of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held on Thursday, the governors said the policemen who attacked protesters must be “brought to book”.

“Governors were unequivocal that all police officers who participated in the abuse or actions that might have led to injury or the death of innocent citizens must be fished out and brought to book while other Nigerians who have been adversely affected by police brutality or other actions that were injurious to them or their loved ones, should be compensated,” read a communique issued by chairman of NGF, Kayode Fayemi at the end of the meeting.

The Governors also urged the IGP to “consult more before going ahead with his plans” to form another anti-robbery unit which he named Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) as a replacement for the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)

The governors argued that the timing of the decision to form S.W.A.T was currently not auspicious because of the mood of Nigerians.

Fayemi said the forum received a briefing from the IGP with regards to the nationwide end SARS protests and plans by the police Chief to carry out far-reaching reforms of the force to meet the challenges of crime management in modern times.

According to Fayemi, the IGP informed governors that the new SWAT team he was putting together will only carry out intelligence-based activities and will not be involved in regular operations.

Meanwhile, governor of Kwara, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, on Thursday led protesters to the police headquarters in the state.

Surrounded by residents who sang his praise, Abdulrasaq said the people need to be protected at all times.

Although his security aides tried to restrict access to the number one citizen in the state, some of persons in the crowd broke through to him.
Also, the Lagos state government has denied the allegations that it hired thugs to attack #EndSARS protesters on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, hoodlums had attacked the protesters around the state house of assembly gate in Ikeja, the state capital.

But reacting in a statement by Gbenga Omotoso, commissioner of information and strategy​, the government described the allegations as “untrue and wicked”.

It blamed the rumour on “enemies of peace and orderliness” who are bent on whipping up sentiments against the government.

It noted that state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who had earlier identified with the protesters, has been suing for peace and making efforts to avert crisis.

It also emphasised the government’s commitment to protecting the protesters and safeguarding the lives of residents.

“The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to some unverified reports in the social media alleging that the government-sponsored thugs to disrupt the #EndSARS protest. This is untrue and wicked,” the statement read.

“Such wild allegations were obviously concocted by enemies of peace and orderliness to whip up sentiments against the government, which has been doing everything possible to resolve the crisis by identifying with our youths in their efforts towards police reforms.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been preaching peace. So has the Deputy Governor, who addressed the protesters last Friday. The Governor has addressed them twice – at the Lekki Toll Gate and at the House of Assembly.

“He even carried a placard and marched with the youths after assuring them that he felt their pains and that it was legitimate for them to protest.

“The enemies of progress, who are not happy that Lagos is not on fire, are the ones fueling the infernal lies that the government was sponsoring thugs to attack our protesting youths. They have been posting on the social media pictures suggesting that a Lagos Bus Service Ltd. (LBSL) vehicle was conveying thugs.

“The bus in question was on its normal operation when it ran into a group of protesters. The passengers, who felt endangered, rushed out of the bus. They returned to continue their journey after the charging crowd had left.

“As a government, we will never encourage thuggery or any act of violence that may put the lives and businesses of Lagosians at risk. We are strongly committed to ensuring that our youths, who have taken to the streets to air their views, are well protected.

“The government seeks the co-operation of all in ensuring that the crisis is put behind us as soon as possible.”

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