NBA calls for arrest, prosecution of security agents that fire live bullets at #EndSARS protesters
• Demands audit of SARS detention centers
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Tuesday called for the arrest and prosecution of security operatives that used live arms and ammunition against peaceful and lawful protesters in the on-going #EndSARS protests across the country.
The umbrella body of lawyers in the country also demanded the unconditional release of all peaceful protesters across different states even as it appealed to the protesters to remain non-violent and law-abiding in expressing their grievances.
“We call on governments at all levels to protect the rights of all citizens participating in the peaceful protests and direct security agencies to cease assaulting, attacking, abusing or otherwise harassing or using force against citizens who seek to have their voices heard through the peaceful protests.
“Under no circumstances should the use of live arms and ammunition against peaceful and lawful protesters be tolerated and those found culpable must be apprehended and made examples of,” the NBA National President, Olumide Akpata told a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
Akpata called for the dismissal and public prosecution against erring police officers and those who have breached the rules of engagement in dealing with the citizenry to demonstrate good faith and commitment towards ensuring accountability, restoring confidence, and sanitizing the system.
The NBA boss said the association will make its human and other resources available to the independent investigation panel to be established by Police and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate the violations of human rights by the disbanded SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police.
The NBA, he said demands an expedited audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country, especially the notorious detention facilities in Awkuzu in Anambra state, the infamous “Human Abattoir” in Abuja and others in Lagos, Port- Harcourt and other parts of the country.
The association also demanded an immediate audit of the detainees in the detention camps with a view to ensuring that all Nigerians unjustly and unlawfully clamped into detention are immediately released, while those who have a case to answer must be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Akpata promised that the NBA will work with Chief Magistrates or designated Magistrates across the country to pay monthly visits to police stations and other detention facilities within their territorial divisions to direct arraignment of suspects or grant them bail in line with the newly enacted Police Act.
This, he said will, in the long run, not only decongest the detention facilities but also discourage unnecessary detention of citizens for unfounded and unjustifiable reasons
“We demand that the Police Service Commission should live up to its responsibilities by speedily and constantly looking into complaints against the Police for abuse or misuse of power. This is important to ensure that the relationship between the public and the Police is one of trust and confidence instead of suspicion and indifference.”
Akpata further promised that the NBA will set up a reform team that will work with Police and other institutions in developing a comprehensive blueprint for Police reforms in Nigeria.
He also announced that the association will continue to advocate for a complete reform and overhaul of the Nigerian Police into a modern and responsible and responsive law enforcement establishment.
“Our nation is at a crossroads and the ongoing nationwide protests is, in many respects emblematic of the larger problems that bedevil us as a nation. One thing we must do is to make the best of this crisis.
“The NBA believes that the only way this can be done is to enlist in a thorough and holistic reform of not just the Nigerian Police, but the entire security architecture in the country,” Akpata said.