Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Sunday that violation of the rights of Nigerians by police in some parts of the country is unacceptable and annoying.
Osinbajo said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see, happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force,” he said.
He said violation of the rights of the citizens by police, especially SARS, was “completely unacceptable because these are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians.”
He said that “the arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted.”
“Today, I had a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, we reviewed several of these issues. The President and I have had discussions on this, he is very concerned about it. He wants to see a reform.
“You are probably aware that the IGP has issued a statement looking at all these issues, in particular, the warning against the use of these tactical units such as SARS for purposes of doing anything other than anti-robbery.
“For example, and I think in his statement, he specifically said that you cannot have a situation where SARS says, they are investigating Cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or in their cars.
“It is very obvious that this is a major concern, a few bad eggs in the police force are causing all of these problems because it is all over the place, in different states. There is a need to take serious action
“The IG’s statement today, is a good first step. He has said clearly that police men must wear police uniforms. You cannot say that because you belong to a tactical unit, you can dress in your casual clothing and be armed, because people can’t even tell the difference between robbers and the police, if you are not properly dressed in police uniform. So, clearly, a reform is in the offing.
“So, I would like to encourage civil society activists, young men and women, who bring this regularly, by the way, to the attention of the government and the police. And I think that activism is important because they have been able to bring a lot of these issues to the attention of the police and government, and that is an important part of the process of the reform.
“It is very obvious that this is a major concern. A few bad eggs in the police force are causing all of these problems. It is all over the place, in different states. There is a need to take serious action. The IG’s statement today, is a good first step.
“He has said clearly that officers have to dress properly. You cannot say that because you belong to a tactical unit, you can dress in your casual clothing, armed in a car. People can’t even tell the difference between robbers and the police, if you are not properly dressed in police uniform,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege has condemned the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In a statement in Abuja Sunday, Omo-Agege expressed concern over the incessant cases of extrajudicial killings, harassment, illegal arrest and extortion of defenceless citizens by some officials attached to SARS in different parts of Nigeria.
He specifically cited the alleged shooting of a man by operatives of SARS in his constituency in Ughelli, Delta State over the victim’s alleged refusal to allow the operatives to search his phone as well as another shooting of a youth in the town by men of the ‘Operation Delta Safe’ over the victim’s alleged refusal to allow the operatives to search his phone to buttress his argument on the need for comprehensive reforms and overhaul of security units in the country.
He therefore called on the Police authorities to fish out the culprits for prosecution, stressing that this will serve as deterrent to others.
While calling on security personnel to always maintain the rules of engagement, the lawmaker urged youth in the area to exercise utmost restraint while investigation is ongoing.
“Those who are authorised to bear arms and maintain law and order in the country ought to understand that such must be exercised with responsibility especially when human life is sacrosanct.
“I hope those who are quick at pulling the trigger would adopt strategies that would foster mutual understanding between them and those they are tasked to protect, in their bid to save the lives of Nigerians.
“It would be a depressing twist of fate for them to be listed among those contributing to the list of the dead in this challenging period globally,” he said.