Reps insist on Constitution amendment despite SARS dissolution

Reps insist on Constitution amendment despite SARS dissolution
House of Rep Members

The House of Representatives will continue with its earlier plan to amend relevant parts of the Constitution to reform the Nigeria Police Force, despite the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday, commended the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for listening to the call by Nigerians “across the length and breadth of the country” to disband SARS.

Gbajabiamila said in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled ‘Gbajabiamila commends Buhari, IGP for dissolving SARS…says House will go on with police reforms.’

He stated that the dissolution of SARS was a necessary response by the government to the outcry arising from “multiple documented excesses” of SARS across the country.

“The Speaker wishes to assure all Nigerians that the dissolution of SARS will not preclude the ongoing efforts by the House of Representatives to effect reforms of the police through legislation.

“There is still a pressing need to have an independent system for monitoring police actions and holding police officers to proper account for failures to follow the law and the police code. The House will continue its work to legislate lasting solutions to the problems of policing in Nigeria,” the statement partly read.

Nationwide protests against extrajudicial killings, extortion and harassment by operatives of SARS, especially on social media with the hashtag, #EndSARS, was already gaining international attention before the IGP declared its dissolution and redeployment of the operatives.

The House had on Wednesday said it was set to partner with the Nigerian Bar Association and Civil Society Organisations towards creating a new law to guide the operations of the police.

Gbajabiamila had said the police could no longer police themselves. He, therefore, proposed deletion of the part of the Constitution that protects the police from judicial review.

Reacting to the disbandment, the Speaker also commended Nigerians, particularly the millions of young people at home and abroad, “who saw a wrong and sought to make it right, who saw injustice and acted to put an end to it.”

According to him, the dissolution of SARS and the broader ongoing reforms of the police that will follow are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes.

Gbajabiamila called on the IGP to take practical steps to support and enforce this policy pronouncement.

He said, “These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country.

“The Nigeria Police Force must also act to identify and punish those operatives of SARS involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality and murder of Nigerian citizens.”

Gbajabiamila noted with displeasure, the police’s manhandling of some protesters, who came out in numbers to protest peacefully.

Adopting a motion moved by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, and titled ‘The Need to Put a Stop to the Human Rights Abuses by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police,’ the House had asked the IGP to “take decisive action to stop the brutality and human rights violation by SARS and report the said actions to the House within three weeks.”

The House had further asked the IGP to produce a comprehensive record of disciplinary and/or judicial action taken against the officers accused of abuse of power in the past five years, and the immediate plan for identifying and compensation for victims.

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