Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has apologized to Nigerians youths for keeping silent and not doing enough to stop the extrajudicial activities of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the country.
Osinbajo was reacting to the ongoing #EndSARS protest across the country against the SARS tactical unit of the Nigerian Police Force over its brutality, illegal arrest, extortion, extra-judicial killings, among others.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Osinbajo admitted that the Federal Government could have acted faster to end police brutality and extortion in the country.
He appealed to #EndSARS protesters to allow government regain their trust, noting that several steps were being taken to redress many of their grievances, which he said were clearly beyond disbandment of the SARS.
“Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry,” he tweeted.
“I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough. These feelings of frustration are justified.
“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.”
He said he has held meetings with governors, the executives of the national assembly and other key stakeholders to ensure justice is served fast.
“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast,” he added.
“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.
“With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.”
The vice-president said he is sending his “deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery”.
“We have proposed that each state government set up a Victims’ Support Fund, which @NigeriaGov will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.
“We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
“On Monday, Mr President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms. We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust. Keep safe. God bless you. – YO,”
KanyiDaily had reported that yesterday night, Nigerian youths held a candle night vigil in honour of all those who have been killed by the now-defunct SARS and the Nigerian Police Force in general.