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Culpable Operatives Won’t Escape Justice, Says Buhari as Anti-SARS Protests Spread

As the protest of high-handedness of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) deepened yesterday despite the disbandment of the police tactical outfit, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts would be brought to justice.

The president said the disbandment of the organisation was only a first step to a wholesome reformation of the Police Force.

As the president spoke in Abuja, many protesters were feared killed in Lagos with the authorities confirming the death of a policeman and a civilian in Surulere area of Lagos as the #EndSARS protest turned bloody even as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who yesterday threw his weight behind the protest against SARS, narrated how his 25-year-old daughter almost lost her life in the hands of SARS operatives.

In Delta State, the police arraigned 14 persons before an Ughelli Magistrate Court in Ughelli North Local Government Area, in connection with last Thursday’s #EndSARS protest in the town.

Buhari spoke yesterday at the State House, Abuja during the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

The event was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan; Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; and Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.

The president said he had directed an immediate investigation of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Isiaka Jimoh, one of the #EndSARS protesters, who was shot dead in Ogbomoso, Oyo State on Saturday.

The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, had on Sunday, ordered the immediate dissolution of SARS unit following escalating protests across the country.
While regretting the unfortunate incident in Ogbomoso, the president promised that all those responsible for the misconduct or wrongful acts would be brought to justice.

He, however, reminded Nigerians that the majority of the members of the Police Force are carrying out their duties diligently, warning that the few bad eggs in the force should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of the entire force.

He said: “I will like to use this opportunity to say a word on the recent genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force and in some cases extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the Nigerian Police Force.

“The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remain the protection of lives and the livelihood of our people.

“We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.

“We deeply regret the loss of life of the young man in Oyo State during the recent demonstrations. I have directed that the circumstances of his death should be thoroughly investigated.”

Speaking on the empowerment programme, the president restated his administration’s commitment to youth development and poverty alleviation.

He pledged that the federal government’s policies of social protection and people empowerment would continue on track, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The president, who described P-YES as a cornerstone of his administration’s social and economic development strategies, said it was part of the overall policy of ensuring that 100 million Nigerians were lifted out of poverty in ten years.

“The P-YES is also part of the plan that we adopted in 2016 in which we empowered One hundred youths from each of the 774 Local Government Areas with the necessary tools to acquire skills and establish small businesses,” he explained, adding: “Given the success of that initiative, we are now committed to creating 774,000 jobs across all the LGAs, through the P-YES programme.”

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