The candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for senatorial by-election in Lagos East, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru on Wednesday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for granting a five-point demand of youths that protested the extra-judicial activities of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squads.
Alongside the five-point demand of the protesters, however, Abiru urged the federal government to completely implement the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reforms of SARS, which according to him, would go a long way to change the public perception of the Nigeria Police.
He canvassed outright implementation of a 2804-page report at a meeting with residents of Agbowa, Ikosi-Ejirin Local Council Development Area (LCDA) on Wednesday, canvassing the amendment of the Nigeria Police Act.
At the meeting are the APC Vice Chairman, Lagos East, Chief Kaoli Olusanya; a former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Jokotola Pelumi and husband of Ogun State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Bode Oyedele, among others.
The panel, which submitted its report to the president in June 2019, had recommended the creation of state and local government police as a strategy to strengthen policing and make police officers more accountable nationwide.
After the submission of the report, the president directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed to ensure the implementation of the report that recommended the renaming of the SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) to operate under the intelligence arm of the Nigeria Police.
At Ikosi-Ejirin’s meeting, the APC candidate commended Buhari’s decision to grant the five-point demand of the aggrieved youths, whose sustained protest culminated in the dissolution of the SARS.
Abiru, a former Commissioner of Finance in Lagos State, observed that IGP’s decision to dissolve the tactical squad “is just the first step in our search for a truly democratic, citizen-centred and community-oriented policing system.”
For this dissolution to achieve its purpose, Abiru urged the federal government “to collaborate with the states of the federation, civil society organisations and other critical stakeholders to initiate far-reaching reforms of the Nigeria Police.”
He, equally, asked the federal government to consider in entirety implement the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
He observed that implementing the report of the presidential panel “is consistent with Buhari’s directive that the IGP should work out modalities and strategies for the implementation of the report.”
He observed that the disbandment of SARS, a formation of the Nigerian Police, would not unilaterally address brutality and extra-judicial killings been perpetrated by the law enforcement agency across the country.
Abiru added that the solution was for the federal government to review codes and regulations of the entire Nigerian Police to ensure personnel of the law enforcement agency perform their duties in accordance with the international best standards.
As the APC candidate for the forthcoming senatorial bye-election, Abiru said: “I am committed to supporting far-reaching reforms that will re-engineer police operations across the federation.
“If eventually elected on October 31, I will pursue the amendment of the Nigeria Police Act in order to humanise police operations and institutionalise modern policing and law enforcement in Nigeria. We cannot allow the police to become a threat to the people they are set up to protect.
Abiru, the immediate past Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank Limited, further stated that reform of the entire police should include empowering the Police Service Commission (PSC) to carry out its oversight function on the police without any hindrance.
He added: “PSC should have enough independence to develop its own processes and procedures and should have its own investigators. It should not have to rely on the police to investigate allegations of human rights violations”.
To prevent what was currently affecting Nigeria Police after the reform, the APC candidate argued that police officers, including the defunct SARS operatives should undergo training based on human rights standards compliant practices.
Abiru, while advocating for a structural training system, stated that there was need for reorientation of the Nigerian Police as a service-focused law enforcement agency rather than as a paramilitary agency.