Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed anger at the activities of police officers especially officers belonging to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who harass, assault, and sometimes kill innocent Nigerians.
Osinbajo stated this Sunday when questioned by journalists in Abuja, according to his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement.
He condemned F-SARS for harassing and sometimes maiming and killing Nigerians nationwide.
The vice president pointed out that such actions coming from those saddled with the responsibilities of protecting citizens were unacceptable.
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In his statement, Osinbajo vowed that culpable police officers will be punished and prosecuted.
Osinbajo said, “I am very concerned and in fact sometimes angry about what I see happening to young men and women who are arrested and, in some cases, maimed or killed by men of the police force, in some cases, those who man tactical units of the police force such as SARS and other units.
“It is completely objectionable. It is unacceptable. These are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians. The arrest, maiming, killing of young people, or anyone at all by these individuals is completely wrong. It is unlawful, it is illegal and all those involved ought to be investigated and prosecuted.
“This afternoon, I had a meeting with the IG of Police, we reviewed several of these issues. The President and I had had discussions on this. He is very concerned about this and he wants to see a reform of this process and I am sure you are probably aware that the IG has issued a statement, looking at all these issues, in particular, warning against the use of these tactical forces such as SARS for the purposes of anything other than anti-bribery as it is supposed to be.
“For example, in the statement, he specifically said that we can’t have a situation where SARS will say they are investigating cybercrime and arresting young men and women who are carrying laptops and their phones.
“Cybercrime is electronic crime. There is no way that you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi. I think it is very obvious that this is a major concern. The few bad eggs within the police force are causing a lot of these.
“Of course, it is all over the place in different states. There is the need of course to take serious action. I think that the IG’s statement today is a good first step. He has said clearly that policemen 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, reform is in the offing.”