Sanwo-Olu moves to get justice for victims of SARS brutality
• sets up enquiry panel • marches with protesters in Alausa
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday he has put in motion plans to getting justice for the victims of brutality and extra-judicial actions allegedly committed by the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Sanwo-Olu made this known while addressing youths protesting against SARS’ excesses at the State House in Alausa, saying the state government would be setting up a panel of enquiry that will comprise youth leaders appointed by EndSARS protesters.
The protesters, who the governor solidarized with as he carried a placard and marched with, were led by Nollywood actors, musicians and comedians, including Debo Adebayo, popularly known as MC Macaroni, and Oluwatoyin Bayegun, also known as Woli Arole.
It was the second time in two days Sanwo-Olu would be meeting face-to-face with youths leading EndSARS protests as he was at the Lekki Toll Plaza on Monday where protesters camped and blocked the expressway.
According to him, the panel will also comprise members of the public, government officials and security agencies to look into the allegations of human rights abuses levelled against SARS operatives in Lagos.
The governor said the objective of the panel was to bring indicted officers to book and get justice for victims of SARS operations.
Besides, Sanwo-Olu also announced the setting up of a Trust Fund to compensate the families of the victims of police brutality in the state, saying the process of managing and disbursing the funds would be completely supervised by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) appointed by members of the public.
Sanwo-Olu said he identified with the protesters in their campaign against police brutality, but pleaded with the aggrieved youths not to undermine the legitimacy of their grievances by being violent and destructive.
The protesters at Alausa handed a communique to the Governor, which detailed their five-point demand.
Sanwo-Olu said the government would be addressing three of the protesters’ demands that were within the purview of the state and promised to engage President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, on the remaining demands.
The governor said he would continue to engage the Federal Government to initiate reforms that would bring about the police force that would protect and respect the rights of the citizens.
“I understand a lot of youths have been battered and maimed by the people who are supposed to protect you.
“I understand you all are feeling the pain of brutality, which is why you have been taking to streets to express your disappointment. Your voice has been heard loudly and actions have been taken from the highest office in the land to address your grievances. It is time for us to move forward and engage further on your demand.
“There is a five-point demand which you have submitted to us today. You demanded the release of all protesters arrested on Monday. All of them have been released unconditionally.
“You demanded we set up a meeting that will lead to the process of getting justice and compensation for the victims of SARS brutality. I have instructed the Ministry of Youth and Social Development to set up a panel of enquiry ASAP that will get justice for the victims.
“We request that any citizen who has had a fatal encounter with SARS in Lagos to come forward and bring their cases to the panel. We will get justice for them. I have also set up a trust fund for the compensation of all victims of SARS brutality. For those who have died, we will be reaching out to their families. We request you (the protesters) appoint your representatives into the panel and the Trust Fund for transparency,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor said the fourth and fifth points in the protesters’ demands, which bordered on police reforms and improved remuneration for police officers were not in the purview of the state, promising to personally deliver the message to President Buhari and the IGP.
Sanwo-Olu expressed concern over the violence that marred the EndSARS protest in Surulere on Monday when a civilian and a police officer died, saying the state government was investigating the matter but pleaded with the protesters not to take the law into their own hands.
He told the demonstrators that he would be leaving the protest ground for Abuja to meet with President Buhari and the IGP as he had promised.
“As I did promise you yesterday that I will be meeting with Mr President today to physically present your demands to him. From this protest ground, I will be leaving for Abuja to meet with President Buhari and IGP. I will deliver your message and demands,” the governor said.