Saturday, May 15, 2021

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Anger rise over SARS killings, Osinbajo, others condemn harassment and killings

There was a nationwide anger on Sunday at the persecution, extortion and extrajudicial execution of innocent Nigerians by agents of the Special Anti Robbery Squad unit, a Nigerian police unit.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate Vice-President Ovie Omo-Agege and Minister of Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo were among those Nigerians who expressed dissatisfaction with the behaviour of the F-FARS personnel, describing it as unacceptable.

Previously, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, in response to the extrajudicial killings and harassment of innocent Nigerians, had prohibited F-FARS officers from participating in routine patrols, stops and searches, roadblocks and barricades, with immediate effect.

On Saturday, a video footage went viral on social media, which shows F-SARS in Ughelli, Delta State shooting a young man. It is believed that the SARS operatives escaped in the young man’s Lexus jeep and left his body on the side of the road.

On Thursday, the sales coordinator of Rifugio Communications Limited, a Samsung dealer whose name is Joshua Ogenekevwe, was kidnapped by police in Epe on his way back to Warri, Delta. It was claimed that his phone was stolen from him and that he was forced to pay them N100,000 after receiving death threats.

On 10 September, a graduate, Ifeoma Abugu, was reportedly killed four days after being “taken over” by SARS men who had taken her after breaking into her boyfriend’s residence, Afam Ugwunwa, in the village of Wumba, Lokogoma district in Abuja, to arrest him.

I’m angry about F-SARS’ arrest, killing of young people, says Osinbajo

In a briefing with State House correspondents at his official residence in Abuja, Osinbajo said he was angry about the actions of some police officers, especially those related to SARS, whom he accused of harassing and sometimes harassing and killing Nigerians across the country.

According to him, such acts, coming from those who have a responsibility to protect citizens, are unacceptable.

In this regard, Osinbajo praised the statement made the same day by police officers on the subject, who said that it would be a mistake to confiscate the laptops and phones of young Nigerians under the pretext of fighting cybercrime.

The Vice President stated, “I am very concerned and in fact sometimes angry about what I see happening to young men and women, who are arrested, and in some cases, maimed or killed by men of the police force; in some cases, those who man tactical units of the police force such as SARS and other units.

“It is completely objectionable. It is unacceptable. These are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians. The arrest, maiming, killing of young people or of anyone at all by these individuals is completely wrong. It is unlawful. It is illegal and all those involved ought to be investigated and prosecuted.

“This afternoon, I had a meeting with the IG of Police. We reviewed several of these issues. The President and I had had discussions on this. He is very concerned about this and he wants to see a reform of this process and I am sure you are probably aware that the IG has issued a statement, looking at all these issues, in particular, warning against the use of these tactical forces such as SARS for the purposes of anything other than anti-bribery as it is supposed to be.

“For example, in the statement, he specifically said that we can’t have a situation where SARS will say they are investigating cybercrime and arresting young men and women who are carrying laptops and their phones.

“Cybercrime is an electronic crime. There is no way that you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi. I think it is very obvious that this is a major concern. The few bag eggs within the police force are causing a lot of these.

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