By Naomi Sharang
The Senate on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to, “as soon as possible”, address the nation on issues of #EndSARS protests in the country.
The Upper Chamber also appealed to the movement and protesters to stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue in order to give the government time and space to meet their demands.
Senate’s resolutions were sequel to a Point of Order on “Matter of Urgent Public Importance” brought by Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) and co-sponsored by all other senators during plenary.
The motion was entitled “The #EndSARS and the Need for Comprehensive and Holistic Reform”.
A wave of protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force erupted in many cities across the country on 8 october.
The protests were triggered by a video trending online showing a young man allegedly killed by SARs operatives at Ughelli, Delta.
It turned out later that the victim did not die, but was gravely injured.
But the police action had already incensed many Nigerians, as it capped other past brutalities.
The predominantly young demonstrators with the #EndSARS sought the dissolution of the unit and an end to police brutality.
Also today, the Senate urged the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government.
While raising orders 42 and 52 of Senate Standing Rules, Olujimi said that some of the documented police brutality in the country during the colonial era was the killing of 21 miners and wounding of 51 workers during the Enugu Colliery strike of 1949.
She cited the June 2020 report of Amnesty International titled “Time to end Impunity” which states:”Between Jan. 2017 and May 2020, there were 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra judicial killings of Nigerian citizens by the Special Anti Robbery Squad.”
Olujumi noted that in spite of disbandment of SARs unit by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and promise of implementing the demands toward reforming the police and ending brutality, the protests have increased in intensity.
She said that as political leaders, “we must take responsibility of protecting, providing succour and guiding our youths”.
Contributing, Sen Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi) said that “While seconding, I want to also suggest very strongly that dialogue should be used to get the youths to suspend the #EndSARS protest.
“Where dialogue fails then we should use whatever means possible, otherwise it will lead to anarchy.
“Already a number of people have been killed and no responsible government will allow lawlessness to take place while it is in power and for that reason government should use whatever means possible to ensure that it bans the #EndSARS movement.
“Of course in liberal democracies like ours, protests take place but where it is being hijacked by hoodlums and unleashing violence on innocent citizens, government should use its constitutional powers by ensuring that law and order is being maintained.”
Also, Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, said that “we need to be made co-sponsors because these children out there on the streets, are our children.
” Nobody is a friend of the illegal or will condone the illegal activities of SARS.
“When our children went to the street demanding for an end to SARS, I think it was a call that everyone in this country, a cry that they could all identify with.”
Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe said that part of what was going to address the issue with immediacy was for the President to look at the issues and address the nation on them.
“The President must try a way of setting up a judicial panel that will have people that are well respected by the same youths so that they can address a certain issue.
“That issue is that those notorious SARS officers that have been identified should face the panel then the people will see us directly confronting what they are worried about,” Abaribe said.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, urged government to implement the demands of the protesters.
“Protesters, you have made your point, you have made your case, your protests have yielded the desired results. It is time to allow the government to implement those issues that government has accepted from you.”
He urged Nigerians to go on with their lawful businesses without hindrances