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Young Nigerians are leading protests yet again to disband a rogue police unit

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After years of horror stories of brazen extortion, illegal detentions and gruesome murders at the hands of local police, young Nigerians are out on the streets to demand the government scrap the police’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.
For the past two days, young Nigerians have protested in front of the Lagos state house of assembly—at day and at night. It’s an in-person manifestation of a long-running anti-SARS campaigns on social media platforms. Now the protests are rapidly spreading to several other states, and Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.

The ongoing street protests have been triggered by the latest reports of murders of innocent civilians committed by SARS officers, who have long operated with impunity.

While SARS was initially set up in 1992 to combat the rise of armed robbery incidents, it has since garnered a reputation for arbitrary arrests, torture, extortion and extra-judicial killings. Given its designation as a special unit with its officers often working in plain clothes and using unmarked cars, SARS officers have become known for crudely extorting innocent young Nigerians and operating outside the remits of law.

SARS officers typically target and detain young men by accusing them of being online fraudsters, simply on the evidence of owning a laptop or smartphone, and then request arbitrary and exorbitant bail fees before they regain their freedom. In more extreme cases, SARS officers abduct civilian targets and force them to make withdrawals at an ATM in exchange for their freedom, sometimes at gunpoint. The unit is also known to target young women as well with several reports of women being raped while in detention.

Without obvious avenues to seek redress, most victims are forced to pay these bribes, particularly given SARS’ fearsome reputation of violence and extra-judicial killings. In 2016, an Amnesty International report found “credible allegations” that SARS operatives “perpetrate acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against detainees in their custody on a regular basis.” In a rare instance in September 2017, five SARS operatives were convicted of the extrajudicial killing two young men.

But it’s not just the fear of violence and possible death, SARS operatives are also known to threaten victims with illegal detention. It’s a feature of Nigeria’s broken criminal justice system which sees 72.5% of inmates in local prisons serving time without being sentenced.

Yet another ban

The ongoing protests have already yielded some results—on paper, at least. Nigeria’s police inspector general has banned operations of SARS officials but there’s just one problem: it’s the fourth time the police leadership has announced restrictions on the unit’s operations in four years. Put another way, there is a wealth of evidence to show that the inspector general’s directives may yet be flouted.

“The bans have so far been largely unclear and left to the discretion of state commissioners of police to “interpret”,” says Dapo Awobeku, program officer at EiE Nigeria, a youth-led civil advocacy group. “For the bans to be effective, they must be based on a well-thought-out process, not some reactionary, emergency notice as we have seen since 2017.”

With this in mind, one of the core demands of the protesters isn’t to simply ban the unit’s operations against civilians but to disband it altogether. In addition, there are also calls for more accountability to serve as a deterrent by sacking and prosecuting erring officers.

To be clear, while the spotlight is often trained on the rogue SARS unit, their actions are somewhat reflective of the wider culture in Nigeria’s police force. With most of police officers lowly-paid, resorting to seeking bribes—either convivially or by force, has become a commonly used tactic to seek supplementary income. It’s a reality that has seen public trust in the police force eroded.

In fact, a 2017 survey by Nigeria’s statistics bureau showed police officers were the most likely of all civil servants to solicit and collect bribes while the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index ranked Nigeria’s police force ranks as the worst of the 127 countries in the report.

Curled from qz.com

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FG announces zamfara a restricted air space

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FG announces Zamfara a restricted air space, orders huge military deployment.

The Nigerian government has forced a restricted air space in Zamfara as a feature of endeavors to handle the security challenges in the state.

As indicated by The Cable, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno uncovered on Tuesday, March 2, that President Muhammadu Buhari has restricted mining exercises in Zamfara to stop the rising instability.

He said the president had requested the service of protection to convey a huge military and insight resources for reestablish routineness in the state. The Nation detailed that they requested the military to recover all regions heavily influenced by desperados, radicals.

Monguno said:

“We can no longer avoid to lose lives while operating within the legalities. We are not going to blackmailed . The government has the responsibility to assert its will.

“Citizens can reside wherever they want to reside . Anybody who is a criminal should be brought to book.”

The security adviser stated that the president also warned against ethnic profiling.Zamfara state has recorded a few assaults by bandits.The new incident included the grabbing of many young ladies from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talatu-Mafara nearby government zone of the state.

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Igboho promises a protest if his accounts are not released

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Self-acclaimed political dissident, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, otherwise called Sunday Igboho, on Tuesday, blamed the Federal Government for freezing his financial assets, following his assault on the fulani herdsmen in Oyo State.

Igboho, who addressed Vanguard, affirmed that all his financial asset have been frozen by the Federal Government since certain individuals were gathering donations.

Nonetheless, Igboho said he had no hands in the said donations, cautioning that his records should be released to dodge protest by young people across the South-West area.

His words: “They have frozen my bank accounts because I am fighting a just course.

I know Yoruba people are behind me.“I will not relent. I must achieve my aims by putting an end to criminalities in Yorubaland.

“If they refuse to release my accounts, there will be serious protests across the South-West.

“Yes, the Yoruba are living in fear. They are afraid that the killer-herdsmen might attack them.

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IGP adamu retires

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Adamu enrolled in the Police Force on February 2, 1986.

The IGP who will turn 60 on September 17, was appointed IGP in January 2019. He has gone through two years in office.

Three Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs) and 10 Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) are additionally due for retirement with him today.

It is accepted that there is a mission to broaden Adamu’s residency.

However, some have contended against such expansion, since it would negate the arrangements of the Police Act 2020 that fixes the retirement of cops at 60 years old or 35 years of administration.

Section 18(8) of the new Act states: “Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years or until the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.”

The Act provides for a tenure of four years for the Inspector General of Police.

Section 7, subsection 2 of the Act provides that: “The person to be appointed as Inspector General of Police shall be a senior police officer not below the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police with the requisite academic qualification of not less than a first degree or its equivalent, in addition to professional or management experience.”

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